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ONLY some six years had passed since the death of 
Gregory VII when St. Bernard was bora (A.D. 1091), just 
two years before Anselm was consecrated Archbishop of 
Canterbury. The echoes of the thunders of the great reform 
ing Pope had scarce died away, and the memory of the 
uncompromising struggle between him and the Emperor 
Henry IV was still fresh in the minds of men. Under his 
direction the Church of Rome had taken enormous strides 
towards that absolutism and universal supremacy, both in 
things temporal and spiritual, which was to reach its climax 
under Innocent III (A.D. 1198-1216), when papal power 
was laps greater than ever before or ever since. It was 
the of the Crusades, and of the rise of the Military 

R< s Orders. The intellect of Europe was beginning 

to < n. The popular story of the discovery of the original 
manuscript of Justinian s famous Pandects, or digest of Roman 
law, in the ruins of Amalfi is discredited, 1 but the study of 
civil law was vigorously pursued, and the profession was one 
of great honour. Canon law received no less attention. The 
vast materials, after twenty-four years labour, were formed 
into a body by Gratian, and published at Rome about 1 140. 
The study of this code became of course obligatory upon 
ecclesiastical judges. It produced a new class of legal prac 
titioners, or canonists ; of whom a great number added, like 
their brethren the civilians, their illustrations and commentaries 

1 See Hallam, Literary History, vol. I. p. 62, 
A 2 

4 Historical Introduction 

for which the obscurity and discordance of many passages, 
more especially in Gratian s collection of canons, papal epistles, 
and sentences of fathers, gave ample scope. From the 
general analogy of the canon law to that of Justinian, the two 
systems became in a remarkable manner collateral and mutually 
intertwined, the tribunals governed by either of them borrowing 
their rules of decision from the other in cases where their 
peculiar jurisprudence is silent or of dubious interpretation. * 
Pope Eugenius III was extremely satisfied with Gratian s 
work, 2 and is said to have instituted the earliest academical 
degrees for distinction in that branch of learning. St. Bernard s 
feelings are clearly expressed in the De Consider atione. 

It was a time, too, of political movement. Arnold of 
Brescia, a disciple of Abelard, but more famous for his 
political heresy, not only preached reform in the Church, but 
threw Rome into convulsions by proclaiming (A.D. 1143) a 
Republic. He presumed to quote the declaration of Christ, 
that His kingdom is not of this world ; he boldly maintained 
that the sword and the sceptre were intrusted to the civil 
magistrate ; that temporal honours and possessions were law 
fully vested in secular persons ; that the abbots, the bishops, 
and the Pope himself must renounce either their state or their 
salvation ; and that after the loss of their revenues, the 
voluntary tithes and oblations of the faithful would suffice, not 
indeed for luxury and avarice, but for a frugal life in the 
exercise of spiritual labours. 3 The terror of successive popes, 
he was hanged, burnt, and his ashes cast into the Tiber 
(A.D. 1155) only two years after Bernard s death. The 
saint s advice to the Pope more than once recalls the teaching, 
tone, and temper of Arnold. 

1 Hallam, Middle Ages, p. 369. 2 Mosheim, Cent. xii. 

3 Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. Ixix, 

Historical Introduction $ 

The Waldcnses and the allied Albigenses, claiming the 
right to preach without commission, when, and where they 
pleased, and infected with Manichean errors, were already 
sowing the seeds of the Reformation, and the popes, by the 
traffic in indulgences, were contributing to the resources of 
the revolt. 

But it is Abelard in whom centres so much of the intellectual 
interest of the period, and for whom it is claimed that he 
planted the standard of impartial philosophy . 1 He was almost 
the first who awakened mankind in the ages of darkness to a 
sympathy with intellectual excellence. His bold theories, not 
the less attractive perhaps for treading upon the bounds of 
heresy, his imprudent vanity, that scorned the regularly acquired 
reputation of older men, allured a multitude of disciples who 
would never have listened to an ordinary teacher. It is said that 
twenty cardinals and fifty bishops had been among his hearers. 2 
The schools of Paris through his stimulus acquired some 
thing of the character of a University, and though his life 
may have been the shipwreck of genius, there are few lives of 
literary men more interesting, or more diversified by success 
and adversity, by glory and humiliation, by the admiration of 
mankind and the persecution of enemies . Such a man could 
hardly escape the fiery wrath of St. Bernard, who described 
him as with Arius disposing of the Trinity by degrees and 
measures, with Pelagius preferring free will to grace, and with 
Nestorius dividing Christ . 3 One of the most illustrious of 

1 Lecky, Rationalism in Europe, i. p. 48. 2 Hallarn, Middle Ages. 

8 For Abelard Lewes, Hi*t. of Philosophy, vol. ii. p. 13, sq., and 
Uebcrweg, Hist, of Philosophy, vol. ii. p. 386-97 (translated by Professor 
Morris, Hodder and Stoughton, 1872), may be consulted. Mr. Reginald 
Poole, in his Illustrations r>f the //>/. of Medieval Thought in the 
Departments of Theology and Politics, strongly sides with Abelard against 
St. Bernard. On the other hand Cardinal Newman in his Rise and 

6 Historical Introduction 

Abelard s disciples was Peter Lombard (died 1164), whose 
Book of Sentences, a collection of propositions from the fathers, 
with no attempt at reconciling them, placed him at the head of 
the scholastic divines. Scholastic theology and scholastic 
philosophy were rapidly developing ; men were busy discussing 
the provinces of faith and reason, or venturing to attempt the 
solution, with the aid of Aristotle, of the insoluble in the 
realms of metaphysics and Christian dogma. 

Amid all this manifold stir and activity St. Bernard was the 
most commanding personality. He could * create popes, and 
command kings, and lead councils by the nose. His advice 
was asked by the greatest persons in Church and State ; and 
he was even adored by the common people, who fancied that 
he was an inspired man, and endowed with the gifts of healing. * 
So says a writer by no means disposed to exaggerate his 
influence, or gild the merit of his private character. * We 
must accept him as quite the eminent and governing man 
in the Europe of his time whose word carried with it a 
sovereign stress surpassing that of any other, whose hand most 
effectively moulded history. 2 

And there appears to be a general consensus that the treatise 
on Consideration , brief though it be, is the greatest of St. 
Bernard s literary efforts. Calvin declared that in it the author 
spoke so sublimely as if he were the very truth speaking. 
Neander regarded it as a mirror of humiliation to all subse 
quent popes. Mr. Cotter Morison describes it as his great 
work ; his American admirer, Dr. Storrs, more in detail, as 
follows : The book has remained from that day to this the 
mirror of St. Bernard s thoughts concerning a true pastor of 

Progress of Universities (Historical Sketches, vol. iii.) has a pungent 
criticism of the gifted Abelard . 

1 Jortin, Part II. p. 294. 2 Storrs, p. 574. 

Historical Introduction 7 

Christendom. There is no single work of Bernard in which 
his spirit is more clearly or more tranquilly revealed ; none 
which is a better memorial of him. And it was written in 
what he himself styled the season of his misfortunes when the 
nations which had been recently thrilled with his eloquence, 
astounded by his amazing works, and pushed by his energy to 
magnificent enterprise, were stirred by griefs too deep for 
tears, and hot with a rage that made the air like a fiery furnace. 
I know of no one who could better have taken to himself the 
ancient words of Ps. xxvii. 5 and Ivii. I : /// the day of trouble 
he shall keep me secretly in his pavilion, in the covert of his 
tabernacle shall he hide me. Be merciful unto me, God, be 
merciful unto me ; for my soul taketh refuge in thee ; yea, in the 
shadow of thy wings will I take refuge, until these calamities be 
overpast? l 

As I learn on inquiry at the Bodleian Library and at 
the British Museum, no translation in English of St. Ber 
nard s little masterpiece has hitherto been published. For 
the suggestion that one might with advantage be offered 
to the public I am indebted to my esteemed diocesan, 
Dr. Gibson, Lord Bishop of Gloucester. Dr. Sanday s 
unfailing kindness on this and other occasions I beg most 
gratefully to acknowledge. I must also express my gratitude 
to the Rev. P. H. Kempthorne (late Fellow of St. John s, 
Cambridge), Rector of Wyck Risington, for favouring me 
with his opinion on some obscure passages. The text 
adopted is that of I. G. Krabinger, Custodian of the Royal 
Library, Munich, 1844. Readers interested in the career 
of St. Bernard may be referred to Cotter Morison s Life and 
Times (Macmillan, 1901), the Rev. I. W. Sparrow s Lectures 

1 Lecture* on St. Bernard at the Lowell Institute, Boston, and at the 
Jo/ins Hopkins University, Baltimore, pp. 560-1. 

8 Historical Introduction 

(1895), and to the excellent little volume of the late 
Dr. Eales (S.P.C.K.). Dr. Storrs book, quoted above, is on 
a much larger scale. A valued correspondent tells me that 
the Abbey of Clairvaux, once the home of 700 Religious, 
is now a penal establishment, where more than 1,000 con 
victs manufacture sheets, tissues, &c. How are the mighty 
fallen ! 


February 8, 1908. 





PROLOGUE . . . . . . .11 

BOOK I 13 


BOOK III . 66 

BOOK IV . 95 

BOOK V . . . . . .124 



1091. Birth of St. Bernard. 

1113. Bernard enters Citeaux. 

1115. Foundation of Clairvaux. 

1 130. Election of Pope Innocent II. 

1 1 40. Council of Sens. First encounter with Abelard. 

1145. Pope Eugenius III. 

1147. Second Crusade. 

1148. Council of Rheims. Errors of Gilbert of Poitiers 


1 1 49. Failure of the Crusade. 

First Book of the De Consider atlone. 

1150. Second Book. 

1152. Third Book. 

The two last some small time after (Du Pin). 

1153. Death of St. Bernard. 


1 AM thinking, Most Holy Father, Eugenius, of writing 
something which may edify, delight, or console you. But 
when I would fain begin I experience a strange hesitation, 
and my words falter, for your Majesty and the love I have for 
you, like rival commanders, issue conflicting orders. The one 
bids me advance, the other holds me in check. Your con 
descension reconciles their differences, inasmuch as though 
you might more fitly enjoin a task, you beg of me a favour. 
If then your Majesty unbends, my modesty should surely 
also yield. True, you sit on Peter s seat. What of that ? 
Though you walk on the wings of the wind, you will never 
outstrip my affection. Love knows no lord ; it recognizes 
a son even in the robes of office. Love, by its very nature, 
is lowly enough ; it needs no prompting to kindness, seeks no 
reward for obedience, sets no bounds to its respect. It is not 
so with some, not so : but they are moved with fear or 
avarice. These are they who seem to bless, but there is evil 
in their hearts ; they flatter to one s face, but in the time of 
need they desert us. But charity never faileth. 1 To confess 
the truth, though I no longer act as a mother to you, I have 
not lost a mother s affection for you. 2 In days gone by you 
were rooted in my very heart ; you are not so easily to be 
plucked out. Ascend into heaven, or descend into the abyss, 
you shall not leave me : I will follow thee whithersoever thou 
goest. I loved you when you were poor, I will love you now 

1 i Cor. xiii. 8. 

2 Eugenius, it will be remembered, had been under St. Bernard at 

1 2 Prologue 


that you are the father of both rich and poor. For if I know 
you well, you have not in becoming the father of the poor lost 
your poverty of spirit. I am sure that the change in your 
circumstances has come to you : it has not been sought by 
you ; and I am no less certain that your promotion has left 
you what you were before, though something be added thereto. 
I will, accordingly, admonish you, not as a schoolmaster, but 
as a mother, at all events as one who loves you. Perhaps the 
fonder I am, the more foolish I may seem. If so, it will be 
in the eyes of him who loves not, and does not feel the power 
of love. 


[Sx. BERNARD shows how unhappy a Pope must be if he 
neglects himself and spends all his time in hearing and decid 
ing other men s differences. He complains of the great 
number of causes brought into the ecclesiastical courts, and 
of the many abuses prevailing there. The conduct of such 
cases, he maintains, is more consistent with the secular than 
the ecclesiastical power. He would not have Eugenius follow 
the example of some of his predecessors, who were so im 
mersed in business that they found no time for contemplation. 
He would rather that the Pope imitated Gregory the Great 
(b. about A. D. 550, d. A. D. 604), who, when Rome was 
besieged, went on quietly working at his Homilies on the 
Prophet Ezekicl. Things divine claim the first consideration. 
The nature and connexion of the four primary virtues are 
discussed, and the book concludes with a severe censure of 
the unbecoming bickerings at the ecclesiastical bar, and an 
earnest exhortation to Eugenius to endeavour to bring about 
a reformation.] 


S/. Reward sympathizes ivtt/j the "Pope in his 
many cares 

i . Well, then, where shall I begin ? I prefer to begin 
with your occupations, because it is in these that I most 
chiefly share your sorrow. Share, 1 say, for I take it for 
granted that you have sorrow; otherwise I ought rather to 
have said I sorrow , since where there is no sorrow one 
cannot share it. Accordingly, if you grieve, I grieve with you; 

14 On Consideration 

if you do not, still I grieve, and deeply, because I know that 
the member which is past feeling is all the farther from health, 
and that the sick man who is unconscious of his sickness is in 
the more dangerous condition. But God forbid that I should 
have any such suspicion about you. I know how keenly, 
not long ago, you used to enjoy the luxury of a quiet life. 
You cannot so soon have changed your habits ; you cannot 
all at once extinguish your regret for the pleasures so recently 
taken from you. The fresh wound must be painful. The 
wound has not already hardened, or in so short a time become 
past feeling. However this may be, unless you dissemble, 
your daily losses are sufficient reason for continual grief. If 
I am not mistaken, you are reluctantly torn from the embraces 
of your Rachel, 1 and as often as that befalls you your sorrow 
must be renewed. But when does that not happen ? How 
often do you wish, and in vain ? How often do you move, 
but not move forward ? How often do you attempt, and 
without result ? strive, and do not obtain ? How often are 
you in labour, and do not bring forth ? venture out to sea, 
but drift away ? where you begin, there make an end ? Just 
as you are beginning to grow, do they not cut you down ? 2 
The children have come to the birth/ saith the prophet, 
and there is not strength to bring forth. 3 Do you know 
this ? No one better. You are a man of shameless face, 
and like the heifer, Ephraim, have learnt to love treading out 
the corn, 4 if, with your consent, things go thus with you. 

1 In the mystical writers Rachel and Leah respectively denote the con 
templative and the active life. 

* Or beginning to weave, cut your thread . 

3 2 Kings xix. 3. 

4 Hos. x. II. The treading out the corn was an easy and luxurious 
service, since God had forbidden to muzzle the ox, while doing it. It 
pictures then the sweet gentle ways by which God wins us to His service. 

Boot /, Chapter i 17 

God forbid ! This is the portion of him who is given over 
to a reprobate sense. I certainly long for you to have peace 
away from these, not in their company. There is nothing 
I dread more for you than that peace. Do you wonder if 
such peace could ever be yours ? Yes, I tell you, if, as mostly 
happens, habit passes into heedlessness. 

The strength of evil custom 

2. Do not trust your present feelings too much. There is 
nothing so rooted in the heart but it may by neglect in process 
of time lose its force and vigour. If you neglect the old 
wound it grows callous, and in proportion as it loses feeling it 
becomes incurable. In fact, severe unceasing pain cannot last 
long ; if it is not got rid of some other way, it must of neces 
sity be conquered by itself. Beyond a doubt it will either be 
relieved by some remedy, or it will end in stupefaction. 
Custom turns everything upside down. Give it time, and 
what can resist its hardening effect ? What does not yield 
to use ? How many find that the bitterness they had formerly 
dreaded has unfortunately through use alone turned to sweet 
ness ? Hear how the just man laments over this : What 
things my soul refused to touch are now through want 
become my food. * At first something will seem to you 

Israel would serve thus far ; for she liked the service ; she was accustomed 
to it, and loved it. Pusey, Minor Prophet*. 

1 Job. vi. 7. The proper idea not having been seized, the passage has 
been given very differently by prior expositors; almost all of whom are, 
at the same time, at variance with each other. In our established text it 

1 6 On Consideration 

unbearable ; as time goes on, and you get used to it, you will 
judge it of no such great importance ; a little later you will 
think it even unimportant ; a little later you will not think it 
even that ; a little later it will delight you. Thus little by 
little our hearts are hardened, and then we loathe goodness. 
Just so, severe unceasing pain must, as I have said, have 
a speedy ending ; it will either be cured, or insensibility will 

3. This is precisely why I have always feared, and still fear, 
that if you delay to apply the remedy, you will not endure the 
pain, and that you may thus incur the risk of being irrevocably 
and hopelessly overwhelmed. I am afraid, I say, lest, sur 
rounded by occupations so numerous that you distrust your 
power of getting through them, you may harden your forehead, 
and thus gradually in a measure strip yourself of the feeling of 
a just and profitable sorrow. It would be far more prudent 
for you to even leave them for a time, than suffer yourself to 
be carried away by them, and certainly by degrees led whither 
you would not. Do you ask whither ? I reply, to a hard 
heart. Do not further ask what that means ; if you have not 
greatly feared it, it is yours already. That heart alone is hard 
which does not shudder at itself for not feeling its hardness. 
Why ask me ? Ask Pharaoh. No one ever got his hard 
heart cured unless God haply took pity on him, and, accord 
ing to the prophet, removed his heart of stone and gave him 

occurs thus: "Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is 
there any taste in the white of an egg ? The things that my soul refused 
to touch are as my sorrowful meat " : a mixt rendering from the different 
Latin copies ; and at the same time offering no meaning whatever. 
Good s Translation of the Book of Job, Notes, p. 70. Good renders 
A thing loathful to the taste of my soul, this alas ! is my sorrowful meat. 
The R. V., Margin, has, What things my soul refused to touch these are 
as my loathsome meat, 

Book /, Chapter it 17 

a heart of llesh. 1 What then is a hard heart ? It is a heart 
which is not torn by remorse, nor softened by affection, nor 
moved by entreaties ; which does not yield to threats, but is 
hardened by scourges. It is ungrateful for kindnesses, faith 
less in counsel, cruel in judgement, shameless in disgrace, 
without sense of fear in the midst of danger, inhuman in things 
human, heedless in things divine ; it forgets the past, neglects 
the present, does not look on to the future. It is a heart 
emptied of all the past except the wrongs it has suffered, 
which lets slip all the present, which has no forecast of the 
future, no preparation to meet it, unless perchance it be with 
a view to gratifying its malice. And, that I may briefly sum 
up the mischief of this dreadful plague, it is a heart which 
neither fears God nor respects man. See whither these 
accursed occupations can drag you at their heels, if, as you 
have begun, you continue to give yourself wholly to them, 
and leave nothing of yourself for yourself. You are wasting 
time ; and, if I may present myself to you in the character of 
another Jethro, you, 2 like Moses, are spending yourself in this 
foolish labour over these things which are nothing else but 
torture of spirit, the enfeebling of the mind, the voiding of 
grace. For the fruit of these things, what is it but spiders 
webs ? 


The rulers of the Church, ought not to he for ever 
hearing and deciding lawsuits 

4. Tell me, pray, what is the good of litigating from morn 
ing till evening, or of listening to litigants ? And would that 
sufficient unto the day were the evil thereof! The nights are 
1 Ezek. xxxvi. 26. a Exod. xviii. 18. 


i 8 On Consideration 

not free. There is hardly enough time left to give the poor 
body a little rest and satisfy the needs of nature ; once again 
up ! and to the strife. Day vomits forth lawsuits unto day, and 
night declares evil unto night, until it is not possible to take 
breath in goodness, nor snatch a little rest by way of change, 
nor find even a few scattered intervals of leisure. I have no 
doubt that you as well as I deplore these things ; but what is 
the good of that if you do not strive to amend them ? Still, until 
you do amend them, I exhort you to go on ever deploring 
them, and not allow yourself to grow hardened in them 
through any familiarity with them or unremitting application 
to them. I have smitten them, saith God, and they have 
not grieved. l Have nothing in common with such persons. 
Rather make it your care to appropriate both the feeling and 
the words of the righteous man who says, What is my 
strength that I should endure ? or what is mine end, that I 
should be patient ? My strength is not the strength of stones, 
nor is my flesh of brass. 2 Great is the virtue of patience ; 
but I could not wish for you patience in these things. It is 
sometimes more laudable to be impatient. You surely do not 
approve of the patience of those people to whom Paul was 
wont to say, Ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are 
wise. 3 Unless I am deceived, the Apostle spoke ironically, 
not by way of praise ; he is flouting the tameness of certain 
individuals, who, as it were, put out their hands to the false 
apostles by whom they had been seduced, and allowed them 
selves most patiently to be carried away by their teachers into 
all sorts of strange and corrupt doctrines. And so he adds, 
* For ye endure if a man bring you into bondage. 4 Patience 
is not good, if, when you may be free, you allow yourself to 

1 J er - v - 3- 2 Job vi. II. 3 2 Cor. xi. 19. 

4 Ibid. 20. 


Book /, Chapter Hi 19 

become a slave. I would not have you disguise the slavery 
into which, though you know it not, you are daily brought. 
It is a sign of a heart waxed gross, that it does not feel its 
own continual vexation. Vexation causes a report to be under 
stood/ saith one. 1 True ; but only if it be not excessive. For 
if it be, it clearly does not cause the mischief to be understood, 
but to be despised. In fact, when the wicked man reaches 
the depths of wickedness, he despiseth it. 2 Rouse yourself, 
therefore, and not only guard against, but dread, the yoke of 
the worst of all slaveries at this very moment threatening you, 
nay rather already pressing with no light weight upon you. Are 
you therefore not a slave because you are the slave not of one 
but of all ? There is no more disgraceful slavery, none worse, 
than that of the Jews ; whithersoever they go they drag the 
chain, and everywhere displease their masters. Tell me, pray, 
when you are ever free, ever safe, ever your own. Every 
where is bustle, noise, and confusion ; everywhere the yoke of 
your slavery galls you. 


What service is worthy , what unworthy ^ of the 
servants of God 

5. And you must not confront me with the Apostle s 
saying, * Though I were free from all 1 made myself the bond 
servant of all. 8 That is far from being your case. Did he 

1 Isa. xxviii. 19. Vtxatio ilat intellectum amlitui. K.V. has, It shall 
be nought but terror to understand the message (or report). Chcyne 
translates the Hebrew, < It shall be simply a terror to understand the 
tidings. AuditHs has the meaning re fort in St. John xii. 38. 

a Prov. xviii. 3. 3 I Cor. ix. ly. 

K 2 

20 On Consideration 

by this service make himself the slave of men in their acquisi 
tion of filthy lucre ? Did men full of ambition, avaricious, 
simoniacal, sacrilegious, keepers of concubines, incestuous, all 
sorts of human monsters such as these, come streaming to 
him from all over the world, so that by means of his apostolic 
authority they might obtain, or retain, ecclesiastical distinctions ? 
The reason why the man to whom to live was Christ, and to 
die was gain the reason why he made himself a bondservant 
was that he might gain the more for Christ, not that he might 
increase the gains of avarice. You must not, therefore, make 
Paul s great shrewdness, zeal, and love so free, a plea for the 
life of a slave which you lead. How much more worthy 
of your apostleship, how much more wholesome for your 
conscience, how much more fruitful for the Church of God, if 
you would rather attend to his words elsewhere, Ye are 
bought with a price, refuse to be made the servants of men/ 1 
What is more servile and unworthy, specially of the chief 
pontiff, than, I do not say every day, but almost every hour, to 
toil at such things, and for such people ? When, then, are 
we to pray ? when to teach our people ? when to build up the 
Church ? when to meditate in the law ? 1 know, of course, 
that the palace every day re-echoes with the sound of the laws, 
but they are the laws of Justinian, 2 not those of the Lord. Is 
that as it ought to be ? See for yourself. Surely, the law of 
the Lord is undefiled, converting souls. 3 But these are not 
so much laws as lawsuits and sophistical arguments subverting 
judgement. How is it then, pray tell me, that you the 
shepherd and bishop of souls can endure to have the law of 
the Lord stand dumb before you, while these laws never cease 
to chatter ? I am mistaken if this perversity does not cause 
you some anxiety. I suppose that sometimes it even makes you 

1 i Cor. vi. 20. 2 See above, Hist. Introd. 3 Ps. xix. 7. 

Book I, Chapter iv 21 

cry to the Lord with the prophet, The wicked have told 
me tales, but not according to Thy law. l Go then, and dare 
to profess yourself a free man while you have this heavy load 
of inconsistency upon your shoulders, from which you cannot 
escape. For if you have the power and not the will, so much 
the more are you the slave of this very perverse will of yours. 
Is he not a slave who is ruled by iniquity ? He is the worst 
of all slaves. Unless, perchance, in your judgement there is 
less dishonour in being governed by a vice than by a man. 
What difference docs it make whether you serve willingly or 
against your will ? For though compulsory slavery be more 
pitiable, slavery deliberately sought is more lamentable. And 
what, say you, do you wish me to do ? I would 
have you give yourself some respite from these occupations. 
Impossible, you will perhaps reply; I could more easily 
bid farewell to the chair. A good reply if I were urging you 
to break them off altogether, and not rather to have some 
break in them. 


The Pope should not be so absorbed in other men s 
affairs as to neglect himself 

6. Let me then put before you my rejoinder, and offer you 
my advice. If you give all your life and all your wisdom to 
action, and nothing to consideration, do I praise you ? in this 
I praise you not. I suppose no one would who has heard 
Solomon s words, He that hath little business shall become 
\viM . - Action itself certainly does not fare well unless 

1 I -, cxix. 85. - Kc< In*, xxxviii. 25. 


On Consideration 

preceded by consideration. If you wish to belong altogether 
to other people, like him who was made all things to all men, 1 
I praise your humanity, but only on condition that it be 
complete. But how can it be complete if you yourself are left 
out ? You, too, are a man. So then, in order that your 
humanity may be entire and complete, let your bosom, which 
receives all, find room for yourself also. Otherwise, according 
to the word of the Lord, what does it profit you if you gain 
the whole world and lose your own self? a Wherefore, though 
all possess you, take care that you are one among them. Why 
are you alone defrauded of your reward ? How long will you 
be a wind that passeth away and cometh not again ? 3 Will 
the time never come when you will in turn receive yourself 
among the rest ? You are a debtor both to the wise and to 
the foolish ; and are you the only one to whom you deny 
yourself? Wise and foolish, bond and free, rich and poor, 
male and female, old and young, cleric and layman, righteous 
and wicked, all alike share in you, all drink at the public 
fountain of your heart ; and will you stand apart and thirst ? 
If he is cursed who impairs his inheritance, what are we to say 
of him who strips himself of it altogether ? By all means let 
your waters stream down into the streets ; let men and flocks 
and herds drink thereof, nay let the servants of Abraham give 
drink even to the camels ; but among the rest do you yourself 
drink of the water of your own well. Let not a stranger , 
saith the Scripture, drink thereat. 4 Are you a stranger ? To 
whom are you not a stranger, if you are one to yourself ? In 
short, if a man is bad to himself, to whom is he good ? 5 
So remember, I do not say always, I do not say often, but at 
least sometimes, to restore yourself to yourself. Among the 

1 i Cor. ix. 22. 2 St. Matt. xvi. 26. 3 Ps. Ixxviii. 39. 

4 Prov. v. 17. Ecclus. xiv. 5. 

Booh /, Chapter v 23 

many, or at all events after the many, do you also make use of 
yourself. Can I make a more liberal concession to you ? For 
what I say, I say to spare you, not according to my strict 
judgement. I suppose that in this respect I am more indulgent 
even than the Apostle himself. More, then/ you reply, than 
I ought to be. I do not deny it. But suppose the 
Apostle s standard be the right one, it matters not, for I am 
confident you will not be satisfied with my timid outline l of 
your duty, but will more abound. It is certainly more fitting 
that you should abound than that I should be too bold. I 
also think it safer for myself in dealing with your Majesty to 
err on the side of timidity than of rashness. And perhaps this 
is the way a wise man should be admonished if the Scripture 
is to be fulfilled Give a wise man an opportunity and he 
will be still wiser . 2 


The administration of justice concerns temporal 
governors rather than bishops 

7. Still I would have you hear what the Apostle thinks 
about this. Is it so that there is not a wise man among 
you, he says, who may judge between brother and brother ? s 
And he adds, * I say this to move you to shame ; those who 
are of less account in the church, set them to judge. 4 So, 
according to the Apostle, apostolic man though you are, you 
usurp a mean office unworthy of you, and descend to the level 
of those who are of less account. Hence it is that as bishop, 

1 Or, Instruction. Infnrmator was in mediaeval Latin a school 

- I rov. ix. 9. 3 I Cor. vi. 5. Ibid. v. 4. 

24 On Consideration 

instructing a bishop, the Apostle said, No soldier of God 
entangleth himself in the affairs of this life. l But I spare 
you. For my aim is not to speak strongly, but to point out 
what is possible. Do you think the times would endure it, if, 
when men are wrangling over an earthly inheritance, and are 
clamouring for your judgement, you were to answer them in 
the words of your Lord, Men, who made Me a judge over 
you ? 2 What sort of a judgement would be pronounced 
on you ? Something like this What says this ignorant 
boor, disregarding his primacy, dishonouring the sovereign 
see, disparaging the apostolic dignity ? And yet, I suppose, 
the critics could not point to a single instance of an apostle 
sitting as a judge of men, a fixer of land-marks, or a dis 
tributor of lands. In fact I read that the apostles stood to be 
judged, not that they sat to judge. 3 The time for judging 
will come ; it is not yet. Does the servant really degrade 
himself if he does not wish to be greater than his lord, or 
the disciple if he does not wish to be greater than he who sent 
him, or a son if he does not overpass the bounds which 
his fathers set ? Who made Me a judge ? 4 said our great 
Lord and Master. And shall any wrong be done to the 
servant and disciple if he does not judge all mankind ? In my 
opinion the man who thinks it unworthy of apostles or apostolic 
men, to whom judgement over greater matters has been com 
mitted, to refrain from judging in these smaller ones, does not 
understand the relative value of things. Why should they 
not scorn to give judgement concerning men s poor earthly 
possessions, seeing that they shall judge heavenly things, and 
angels too ? Your jurisdiction, therefore, is over criminal 
cases, not over property ; if indeed it is for the former pur- 

1 2 Tira. ii. 4. 2 St. Luke xii. 14. 3 Acts v. 27. 

4 St. Luke xii. 14. 

Book /, Chapter vi 25 

pose, not for the latter, that you have received the keys of the 
kingdom of heaven, which will, I presume, shut out men 
because they are transgressors, not because they are owners of 
property. That ye may know, our Lord says, that the 
Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins. 1 Which 
seems to you the greater dignity and power, that of forgiving 
sins, or that of dividing estates ? The truth is that there is 
no comparison between them. These lower earthly things 
have their own judges, the kings and princes of the earth. 
Why trespass on another man s province ? Why put your 
sickle into another man s harvest ? Not that men in your 
position are unworthy, but because to devote yourselves to 
such matters when you have enough to do with better is 
unworthy of you. Finally, where necessity requires, this is 
what the Apostle thinks If the world shall be judged by 
you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters ? 2 


Nothing more deserving of consideration than 
piety and things eternal 

8. But it is one thing now and then for some urgent reason 
to turn aside to these matters ; it is another of your own 
accord to apply yourself to them as if they were of such 
importance as to deserve the earnest attention of your exalted 
rank. Accordingly, if I wished to speak strongly, or with 
perfect sincerity say all that is right, I should say all that 
I have said and a vast deal besides. But as things are, for 
the days are evil," it is enough now that you have been 

1 St. Matt. ix. 6. 2 i Cor. vi. 2. 3 Epli. v. i<V 

26 On Con side ratio?] 

admonished not to give yourself up altogether, nor at all times, to 
the active life, but to set apart some portion of your heart and 
of your time for consideration. But in saying this I have regard 
to the necessity laid upon you, not to the claims of righteous 
ness : albeit there is no unrighteousness in yielding to neces 
sity. For if the fitting were possible, reason unanswerably 
shows that piety, which is profitable for all things, should 
under all conceivable circumstances be distinctly preferred, 
and that it ought, either alone or above all else, to be stu 
diously cultivated. Do you ask what piety is ? It is leaving 
time for consideration. You may perhaps tell me that herein 
I differ from him who defines piety as the worship of God V 
I do not really differ from him. If you well consider the point 
you will find that I have expressed his meaning in my own 
words, only partly, however, I admit. What is so essential to 
the worship of God as the practice to which He exhorts in 
the psalm, Be still and see that I am God ? 2 This certainly 
is the chief object of consideration. Is anything, in all 
respects, so influential as consideration? Does it not by 
a kindly anticipation create the divisions of the active life 
itself, in a manner rehearsing and arranging beforehand what 
has to be done ? There must be consideration lest haply 
affairs which foreseen and premeditated might turn out well, 
may, if precipitated, be fraught with peril. I have no doubt, 
if you will recall the incidents, you will find that in law cases, 
important business of various kinds, or in weighty delibera 
tions, you have yourself frequently had this sorrowful experi 
ence. First of all, consideration purifies the very fountain, 
that is the mind, from which it springs. Then it governs the 
affections, directs our actions, corrects excesses, softens the 
manners, adorns and regulates the life, and, lastly, bestows 
j 1 Job xxviii. 28. 2 Ps. xlvi. IO. 

Booh I, Chapter vii 27 

the knowledge of things divine and human alike. It is con 
sideration that brings order out of disorder, puts in the links, 
pulls things together, investigates mysteries, traces the truth, 
weighs probabilities, exposes shams and counterfeits. It is 
consideration which arranges beforehand what is to be done, 
and ponders what is accomplished, so that nothing faulty, or 
needing correction, may settle in the mind. It is considera 
tion which in prosperity feels the sting of adversity, in 
adversity is as though it felt not ; the one is fortitude, the 
other is prudence. 

The four primary virtues 

9. And herein you may observe a delightfully harmonious 
connexion between the virtues, and their dependence one upon 
another. In the present instance, for example, Prudence is 
the mother of Fortitude, nor ought any deed of daring to be 
called fortitude, but rather rashness, if it be not the child of 
prudence. It is consideration, too, which sits as it were 
umpire of the strife between our pleasures and our necessities, 
settles the boundaries on either side, allotting and allowing to 
the latter what is sufficient, taking from the former what is 
excessive, and then from both fashioning a third virtue known 
as Temperance. For consideration deems the man who denies 
himself what is necessary no less intemperate than the man 
who indulges to excess. Temperance, therefore, consists not 
only in cutting down superfluities, but in allowing necessaries. 
The Apostle apj>ears to be not merely the supporter of this 
\iew, but its author, for he teaches us that the care of our 

28 On Consideration 

flesh is not perfected in the gratification of its desires. 1 When 
he says that the care of the flesh is not perfected , he checks 
all excess ; when he adds * in the gratification of its desires , he 
does not exclude what is necessary. I therefore think there 
is good sense in the definition of Temperance given by the 
writer who^tells us that it neither cuts off what jsjaeccssary, 
nor goes beyond it. This agrees with the philosopher s 
maxim, ; Moderation in all things. 

I o. Now as regards Justice, which is one of the four, is it 
not certain that there must be previous consideration in order 
that Justice may be a mental habit ? The mind must first 
reflect upon itself in order that it may frame a rule of Justice, 
and not be inclined to do to another what it would not have 
done to itself, nor refuse to another what it desires for itself. 
These two assuredly comprise the whole sphere of Justice. 
But Justice does not abide alone. Permit me to point out to 
you the beautifully close and harmonious connexion which 
exists between it and Temperance, and between both these 
and the two former virtues. Prudence and Fortitude. For if 
it be a part of Justice to refrain from doing to another man 
what we would not have done to ourselves, and if perfect 
Justice, 2 as our Lord says, consists in doing to other men 
whatsoever we would they should do to us, neither of these 
will be possible unless the will itself, which entirely deter 
mines the nature of an action, be so ordered that it neither 
desires anything superfluous, nor superstitiously refuses any 
thing necessary ; and this is the work of Temperance. In 
a word, if Justice itself is to be just, it must be regulated by 
Temperance. Be not righteous over much saith the wise 
man, 8 showing us hereby that Justice without the curb and 

1 Rom. xiii. 14, apparently. 2 St. Matt. vii. 12. 

3 Eccles. vii. 16. 

Book /, Chapter viii 29 

restraint of Temperance is by no means to be approved. It is 
noteworthy that Wisdom itself does not refuse the bridle of 
Temperance, for Paul, according to the wisdom given to him by 
God, bids us not to be wiser than we ought, but to be soberly 
wise. 1 But, on the other hand, that Temperance cannot 
dispense with Justice, our Lord shows us in the Gospel, 
when He rebukes the temperance of those who abstained that 
they might seem to men to fast. 2 There was temperance in 
respect of food, but there was not justice in the heart, because 
their aim was not to please God but to please men. Again, 
how can you have either one or the other unless you have 
Fortitude, since Fortitude, and no slight Fortitude, is required, 
if what you desire, and what you decline, are to be confined to 
the narrow channel which lies between too little on the one 
side, and too much on the other, so that the will may be con 
tent with that bare, unmixed, unalloyed, consistent, nicely 
balanced, as it were neatly trimmed, moderation, which alone, 
we are agreed, partakes of the quality of virtue. 

ii. Tell me, pray, if you can, to which particularly of 
these three virtues you think this middle place should be given, 
which so borders upon all that it seems to belong to each. 
Arc virtue and the mean identical ? If so, virtue would not 
be manifold, but all the virtues would be included in one. Is 
it not better to maintain that unless the mean be kept there 
can be no virtue ? and that this middle region of which we 
speak is in a sense the very pith and marrow of all virtues, 
wherein they are so united that they must all seem to be one, 
all the more because by sharing in it they do not divide it, but it 
is as an unbroken whole the property of each ? For example, 
what is so characteristic of Justice as Moderation ? This is 
so certain, that if Justice be tainted with excess, it clearly 
1 Rom. xii. 3. a St. Matt. vi. 16. 

30 On Consideration 

does not give to every man his due ; yet this giving to every 
man his due is the very object of Justice. Again, what is 
more characteristic of Temperance, which is surely what it is 
for no other reason than that it allows nothing immoderate ? 
But you will, I suppose, admit that the observance of the 
mean is no less a mark of Fortitude. Is not Fortitude above 
all things necessary to put forth its power and rescue Modera 
tion from the assaults of vices which on every side try to 
strangle it? And once it is free, is it not Fortitude that 
makes it a solid foundation of goodness, and the abode of 
virtue ? Therefore, to keep the mean is Justice, Temperance, 
Fortitude. Perhaps the difference between them may be thus 
stated Justice is concerned with the affections ; Fortitude 
makes Justice efficacious; possession as well as use are the 
domain of Temperance. It remains for us to show that 
Prudence is not excluded from this communion of the virtues. 
Is it not Prudence which first discovers and gives attention to 
Moderation when it has been too long neglected and despised, 
imprisoned as it were through the jealousy of the vices, and 
hidden out of sight in the darkness of inveterate habit ? Why 
do I tell you this ? Few pay attention to Prudence because 
few possess it. So Justice seeks, Prudence finds, Fortitude 
frees, Temperance possesses. I do not propose to now dis 
cuss these virtues, but this much I would say because I am 
urging you to find some time for consideration, through whose 
kindly service these and such like truths receive the attention 
they deserve. To bestow no labour in life on securing 
leisure so pious and so profitable, is not this to lose life 

Rook /, Chapter ix 31 


The recent practice of the Tope to be gradually 
corrected, the old imitated 

12. But suppose you were unexpectedly to devote yourself 
entirely to this philosophy. Your predecessors were not 
wont so to do ; you will be a nuisance to all the world, inas 
much as you are not walking in the footsteps of your fathers ; 
and, what is more, it will seem as though your conduct were 
designed to flout them. Besides this, you will be a target for 
the familiar proverb the man who does what nobody else 
does is a marvel to everybody ; it will be hinted that you 
have a passion for admiration. And you cannot all at once, 
or altogether, either correct the faults of your critics or mod 
erate their excesses. After a time you will be able, according 
to the wisdom given to you by God, little by little and as oc 
casion offers, to take the business in hand. Meanwhile, by 
all means turn another man s badness to good account ; this 
you can do. Still, if we are to follow that which is good, 
not that which is new, there have not been wanting Roman 
pontiffs who found leisure in the midst of the weightiest 
affairs. When the city was besieged, and the sword of the 
barbarians was over the necks of the citizens, was Pope 
Gregory thereby deterred from writing words of wisdom at 
his leisure ? At that very time, forsooth, as appears from his 
preface, he expounded with no less diligence than elegance 
the concluding and most obscure portion of EzekieJ. 

32 On Consideration 


The shameless trickery of advocates, judges^ 
and procurators 

13. Very good , you say, but different customs now 
prevail, we live in other days, and men s manners have 
changed ; dangerous times are not only coming but have come. 
Deceit, and guile, and violence have grown strong upon the 
earth. Pettifoggers abound, a defender a of the right is rare, 
everywhere the strong oppress the poor ; we dare not fail to 
succour the oppressed, we cannot refuse justice to the sufferers. 
Unless causes are pleaded, and both sides heard, how can 
judgement be given between the parties. My reply is this 
Let the causes be pleaded, but in the proper way. For the pre 
valent practice is most execrable, and such as does not become 
even the forum, let alone the Church. It is a marvel to me 
how your religious ears can bear to listen to the disputes 
of advocates 2 of this class, and to their battles of words, 

1 Honorius, Emperor of the West, at the request of African Councils, 
appointed in A.D. 407 lay defenders (defensores} of the Church, to 
watch over its privileges and maintain its rights, so that the clergy should 
not be obliged to appear personally in secular courts. (Robertson, Ch. 
Hist, vol. i. p. 573.) In Rome, beginning with Innocent I (A.D. 402- 
417) the Defenders became by the time of Gregory the Great a regular 
order of officers whose duties were (i) to defend Church interests generally, 
(ii) to take care of alms left for the poor, (iii) to go to help applicants 
from a distance for Papal protection, (iv) to look after outlying estates 
belonging to St. Peter s patrimony. At that time there were seven such 
officers, each with his own region. They were usually laymen, but some 
times clerics, and held a sort of ecclesiastical position. (Diet, of Christian 
Antiq. vol. i. p. 33.) 

2 Advocates, Defenders, or Vicedomini (French Vidames) arose in 
Gaul during the sixth and seventh centuries. Except in name they bore 

Book /, Chapter .v 3 3 

which avail more to the subversion of the truth than to its 
discovery. Correct the corrupt custom, cut off the tongues 
that speak vanity, close the deceitful lips. These are they 
who have taught their tongue to utter lies ; they are clever in 
withstanding justice, learned in defending falsehood. They 
are wise to do evil, eloquent to assail the truth. These are 
they who venture to instruct their teachers, who invent their 
facts, blackmail the innocent, destroy the simplicity of truth, 
obstruct the ways of judgement. Nothing so easily brings 
virtue to light as a brief and simple narrative. So then, when 
cases must come before you they need not by any means all 
come I should like you to decide them with care, but sum 
marily, and so cut short these dilatory adjournments which 
mean nothing but the hunting of the prey. Let the cause of 
the widow come unto you, the cause of the poor, and of him 
who hath nothing to give. You will be able to hand over 
many other causes to various persons to dispose of; the vast 
majority you will not deem even worthy of a hearing. For 
what need is there to admit to your presence men whose sins 

no resemblance to the defenders of the earlier ages. They defended 
the bishops and clergy against their rude and lawless neighbours, acted as 
secular judge, led the contingents to the army furnished by church 
estates, &c. Charlemagne made the appointment of such a champion for 
every church compulsory. Tire champion was usually a powerful layman, 
and his reward was the use of land belonging to the church and adjacent to 
his own. The advocates gradually became tyrants instead of protectors, 
neglected their duty, usurped the right of nominating to the church or 
abbey, made the office hereditary, and treated the property of the Church 
as if it were their own. The monasteries were especially oppressed by 
their defenders , who often paid largely to the sovereign for the privilege 
of defending them. Councils in Kngland restricted these usurpations as 
early as the Council of Beccanceld (A. 0.696) and Clovesho, most prob 
ably Clifl-at-Hoe near Rochester (A.D. 803). In St. Bernard s time 
(A.D. 1148) the Council of Rhcims dealt with the subject in its <ixth 
Canon. Robertson, Ch. ////. , Diet, of Christ. Antiq., &c. 

IT. II kNAkl) 

34 On Consideration 

clearly go before to judgement ? So gigantic is the impudence 
of some men, that though their causes bear on their very face 
the swarming scabs of ambition, they do not blush to demand 
a hearing, thus revealing themselves to the consciences of the 
multitude, a tribunal before which they would, as in the judge 
ment of even their own conscience, be confounded. There was 
no one to check their effrontery ; so the numbers grew, and they 
lost all sense of shame. But, oddly enough, a vicious man 
does not shun the consciences of other vicious men, and 
where all are filthy, the stench of one is hardly noticed. For 
instance, when did an avaricious man ever blush for another 
avaricious man, the unclean for the unclean, the luxurious for 
the luxurious ? The Church is full of ambitious men ; the time 
has gone by for being shocked at the enterprising efforts of 
ambition ; we think no more of it than a robber s cave thinks 
of the spoils of the wayfarers. 

Such iniquitous greed to be sternly rebuked 

14. If you are a disciple of Christ, let your zeal kindle, let 
your authority arise against this impudence and widespread 
pestilence. Look to your Master, see what He does, listen 
as He says Let my servant follow me. 1 He does not 
prepare ears to hear, but a scourge wherewith to smite. He 
neither utters words nor attends to them. For he is not 
sitting to judge, but pursuing to punish. Nevertheless, he 
plainly indicts the offenders they had made the house of 
prayer a place of merchandise. Do you follow His example. 

1 St. John xii. 26. 

Book I, Chapter xt 35- 

Let traffickers of this description blush before your counten 
ance, if possible; if that may not be, let them be afraid. 
(You have the scourge in your hand. Let the money-changers 
fear ; let them not trust in their money, but distrust its power ; 
let them hide their money from you because they know you 
are more ready to pour it out than to accept it. By earnestly 
and constantly acting thus you will gain many, because you 
will win over to more honourable pursuits those who follow 
after filthy lucre, and you will preserve many from even daring 
to attempt anything of the kind. And there is something 
else. There will be a substantial increase in the leisure time 
which I am urging you to secure, for you will thus redeem 
not a few brief intervals to devote to leisurely consideration, 
sometimes by not hearing the business at all, on other occasions 
by entrusting it to some one else. When you deem the 
matter worthy to be heard by yourself, by judging the case on 
its merits you will save both time and expense. I am thinking 
of adding a few remarks on this topic, but I prefer to do so 
at the beginning of another book. Here let me end. I am 
afraid you may not only find my matter unpleasant, but think 
me tedious. 

C 2 


[Eugenius had delegated to St. Bernard the office of preach 
ing the Second Crusade (A. D. 1147), which ended in utter 
and hopeless failure . * Soon , says Mr. Cotter Morison 
(Life and Times of St. Bernard, p. 417), from the broad 
population of Europe, a murmur of wrath and reproach was 
heard, which, rising in every swelling volume, at last broke 
into articulate utterance, and thundered out the name "Bernard" 
with every mark of anger and resentment. . . . Bernard was 
accused and reviled as the author of the calamities which had 
overtaken the Crusade. Why did he preach it ? Why did 
he prophesy success ? Why did he work miracles to make 
men join it, if this was to be the result ? In the opening 
portion of this book the Saint answers these questions and 
attempts to justify himself. 

He next points out the four subjects worthy of considera 
tion yourself* things beneath you, things around you, things 
above you, and admonishes Eugenius to consider who he is, 
and, as to the dignity of his profession, -what he is. First, he 
is to reflect whence he is descended, which may serve to abate 
his pride. His authority over all churches is for service, not 
for arbitrary dominion. If he grasps at civil and ecclesiastical 
supremacy, he deserves to lose both. Secondly. Eugenius is 
not only supreme pastor over all the flocks, but likewise over 
all the shepherds . Nevertheless, he must remember that the 
dignity which has been superadded to him has not been able 
to divest him of his nature. Born a man, he is still a man, 
and ought to consider himself as a man. Draw the veil 
which covers you, disperse the clouds that environ you, and 
you will find yourself a poor, naked, wretched creature in 
a word, born in sin, with a short life abounding in miseries, 
and full of fears and complaints. Thirdly, Eugenius is to 
consider his manners and conduct, and, in conclusion, is 
exhorted to the pursuit of various virtues. Du Pin, &c.] 

Book II, Chapter i 37 


St. Bernard a/>o/og/zes for the failure of the 
Second Crusade 

I. I remember, dear Eugenius, Father in God and best of 
men. the promise which I made, alas ! too long ago. Now, 
late though it be. I propose to redeem my pledge. I should 
be ashamed of the delay if I were conscious of carelessness 01 
contempt. This is not the case ; but, as you yourself know, 
we have fallen on evil times ; it seemed as though our social 
life, not to speak of our studies, was doomed to come to 
a standstill ; it was as though the Lord, provoked by our sins, 
were almost judging the world before the time, with equity 
indeed, but forgetful of his mercy. He has not spared the 
people, nor His own Name. Do they not say among the 
peoples, Where is their God ? ! And no wonder. The 
sons of the Church, and they who bear the Christian name, 
lie prostrate in the desert, slain with the sword, or perished 
with hunger. Floods of strife have overwhelmed our rulers, 
and the Lord has made them to wander in the waste, where 
there is no way. 2 Tribulation and misfortune are in their 
ways, terror, sorrow, and confusion in the chambers of kings 
themselves. 3 Confusion dogs the footsteps of those that 
bring tidings of peace, that announce good things ! 4 We 
said peace , and there is no peace ; we promised good 
things, and lo ! perplexity. It might be supposed we had 

1 Ps. xlii. IO. Ps. cvii. 40. 

8 Ps. xiii. 3, Vulg. Isa. lix. 7. See also Sanday and Hcadlani, Rom. 
iii. 15-17. 
< Isa. Iii. 7. 

38 On Consideration 

therein been light or rash. We certainly ran therein not 
as uncertainly, but at your command, nay, rather at God s 
command given through you. Why then have we fasted, and 
He hath not beheld ? humbled our souls, and He knew not ? 
For in all these things His fury is not turned from us, but 
His hand is stretched out stilJ. How patiently, meanwhile, 
doth He listen to the impious words of the blasphemous 
Egyptians, He craftily led them out that He might slay 
them in the desert. J We all know that the judgements of 
the Lord are true. 2 But this judgement is such a great deep 
that I could almost justify myself for calling him blessed who 
is not offended thereat. 

2. Still, how strange it is that men are so rash as to dare 
to reprehend what they cannot possibly comprehend ! Let 
us call to mind the judgements of former times, which have 
been since the world began, if haply we may find consolation 
in them. For one spoke on this wise, I have remembered 
thy judgements of old, O Lord, and have comforted myself. " 
I speak of what everybody knew, and now nobody knows. 
Forsooth this is the way with the wit of man. Knowledge 
is sometimes superfluous : when we need it, we have it not. 
Moses, when about to lead the people out of the land of 
Egypt, promised them a better land. Otherwise, had they 
known that land only, were they ever likely to follow him ? 
He led them out, but when they were led out he did not lead 
them into the land which he had promised. 4 Nor can the sad 
and unlooked-for issue be attributed to the rashness of the 
leader. He did everything as the Lord commanded, the 
Lord working with him, and confirming his work by signs 
following. But that people, you say, was stiff-necked, always 

1 Ex. xxxii. 12. 2 Ps. xix. 9. 3 Ps. cxix. 52. 

4 Deut. xxxii. 52, &c. 

Book 77, Chapter i 39 

stubbornly opposing the Lord and his servant Moses. Well ! 
they were faithless and rebellious ; but what are these ? Ask 
them. What need for me to say what they themselves con 
fess ? One thing I do say. How could they reach their 
journey s end who were always turning back on the road ? 
Was there ever a time in their whole journey when they were 
not in their heart turning back into Egypt ? But if they fell 
and perished on account of their iniquity, can we wonder that 
our contemporaries with the same conduct have the same j 
experience ? But was their fall contrary to the promises of 
God : No, nor has the fall of these latter been. For the 
promises of God never prejudice the righteousness of God. 
And something else I wish to say. 

3. Benjamin hath sinned : ] the other tribes gird themselves 
for vengeance, and not without God s approval. In fact He 
himself appointed the leader of the army. So they fight, 
relying both on the stronger force and on the better cause, and, 
what is more, on the divine favour. But how terrible is God 
in His purposes towards the children of men ! 2 The avengers 
of wickedness gave their backs to the accursed, and the many 
fled before the few. But they return to the Lord, and the 
Lord bids them go up. 3 They go up afresh, and again they 
are scattered and confounded. So at first with God s favour, 
and then at God s command, the righteous engage in a 
righteous contest, and nevertheless are overcome. But they 
were found as superior in faith as they were inferior in the 
fight. What do you suppose our forces would make of me if 
at my exhortation they were again to go up, and again be over 
come ? Are they likely to listen to me if I were to advise 
them for the third time to march, and resume the work in 
which once and again they have been frustrated ? And yet the 
1 Judges n. fl, 2 P>. Ixvi. =. s Judges xx. 28. 

40 On Consideration 

I Israelites, taking no account of their double disappointment, 
obeyed for the third time, and were then victorious. But we 
shall perhaps be asked, How are to know that the word has 
gone forth from the Lord ? What signs do you work, that 
we may believe you ? It is not for me to answer these 
questions ; I must spare my modesty. Do you answer for 
me, and for yourself, according as you have heard and seen, 
or, at all events, according as God has given you inspiration. 

4. But you are, perhaps, wondering why I take this line, so 
different from what I purposed. I do so, not because I have 
forgotten my purpose, but because I do not consider it foreign 
to my purpose. If I remember, the subject of my discourse 
to your Excellency was to be Consideration. And certainly 
the matter to which I have referred is important and requires 
much consideration. But if great matters ought to be con 
sidered by great men, who is so well qualified for the work as 
yourself, who have no equal upon earth ? You will, I am sure, 
according to the wisdom and power given to you from above, 
deal with this matter. It is not consistent with my humility 
to tell you that such and such things should be done. It is 
enough for me to have intimated that something ought to be 
done for the consolation of the Church, and to stop the mouth 
of them that speak wickedly. Let these few remarks stand 
for my apology, so that whatever your conscience may tell you 
about me you may from my own lips know enough to excuse 
me, and yourself also. I cannot hope for this from those who 
judge by results, but with you I am safe. The testimony of a 
man s conscience is his only perfect and complete excuse. To 
me it is a very small matter that I should be judged by those 
who call good evil and evil good, who put light for darkness 
and darkness for light. 1 And if one of the two things must 

1 Isa. v. 20. 

Book II, Chapter i 41 

happen, I had rather that men murmured against us than 
against God. It is good for me if He condescends to use 
- a shield. I gladly welcome the tongues that speak 
against me, and the poisoned darts of blasphemers, if only 
they may not reach Him. I do not refuse to be dishonoured 
if only violence be not done to the glory of God. Who can 
give me the privilege of glorying thus, ; For thy sake have 
I suffered reproach, shame hath covered my face ? 1 My 
glory is to become a partner with Christ, who says, the 
reproaches of them that reproached thee have fallen upon 
me. 2 Now at last my pen shall return to its proper work, 
and my discourse go on its way to the goal we set before us. 


Consideration distinguished from Contemplation 

5. And first of all consider the word. I do not wish it to 
be regarded as exactly synonymous with contemplation, because 
the latter is concerned with the certainty of things, the former 
more fitly with their investigation. Accordingly, contemplation 
may be defined as the soul s true unerring intuition, or as 
the unhesitating apprehension of truth. But consideration is 
thought earnestly directed to research, or the application of the 
mind to the search for truth ; though in practice the two terms 
are indifferently used for one another. 

1 I -. Uix. 7. - v. io. 

42 On Consideration 


Consideration fourfold (/) The Tope himself, 
(2) things below him, (3) things around him, 
(4) things above him 

6. Now as regards the fruit of consideration, I think there 
are, as they occur to me, four subjects worthy of your con 
sideration yourself, things below you, things around you, 
and things above you. Let your consideration begin with 
yourself, lest, while you neglect yourself, you waste your 
energies on other things. What does it profit you if you gain 
the whole world and lose your single self ? * Though you be 
wise, you lack wisdom to yourself, if you do not belong to 
yourself. But how far do you lack wisdom ? In my opinion, 
altogether. Though you know all mysteries, though you 
know the breadth of the earth, the height of the heavens, the 
depth of the sea, if you know not yourself, you will be like a 
man building without a foundation, and will succeed not in 
rearing an edifice, but in making a ruin. Whatever structure 
you raise outside yourself will be like a heap of dust before the 
wind. He, therefore, is not wise who is not wise to himself. 
The wise man will be wise to himself, and will first of all 
drink of his own well. Let, then, your consideration begin at 
yourself ; and not only so, let it end there. Whithersoever it 
may roam, recall it to yourself, and it will bring with it the 
fruit of salvation. To yourself be first, to yourself be last. 
Copy the example of the Great Father of all, who both sends 
forth His word and keeps it with Him. Consideration is 
your word ; if it goes forth, let it not go away ; let it so go 
on that it go not out ; let it so go outside that it be not gone 
1 St. Matt. xvi. 26. 

Book II, Chapter Hi 43 

altogether. In winning salvation let no one be nearer and 
dearer to you than the only one of your mother. 1 Think of 
nothing contrary to your own salvation. In saying * contrary , 
I have said too little ; I ought to have said besides your salva 
tion. Whatever offers itself to consideration, if it has not 
some bearing on your own sahation. ought to be rejected. 


The threefold Consideration leading to self- know 
ledge. Firstly, What the Pope is 

7. And this consideration of yourself falls into three 
divisions, if you consider what, who, and what manner of 
man, you are. The first refers to your nature, the second to 
your person, and the third to your character. If, for example. 
it be asked, what? a man ; who? pope or chief pontiff; 
what manner of man ? kind, gentle, and so on. The inves 
tigation of the first of these may be more the work of a 
philosopher than of an apostolic man ; still, in the definition 
of a man as a rational mortal animal, there is something which 
you may, if you choose, carefully ponder. There is nothing in 
it contrary either to your profession or your rank, but there is 
something which may contribute to your salvation. For if 
you consider these two attributes together, rationality and 
mortality, you gather good fruit the fact of your mortality 
humbles your reason, while your reason supports you under the 

1 St. Bernard perhaps has in mind Cant. vi. 8 My dove, my 
undefiled (or perfect) is but OIK- ; she is the only one of her mother; she 
is the choice one of her that bare her. Symbolically, the one dove it 
the soul intent upon the highest good . . . *< una // Deo vacet. See 
A Lapide, Commentary. 

44 On Consideration 

thought of your mortality, and a prudent man will not neglect 
either side. If the point before us requires further considera 
tion, it shall be dealt with later on, perhaps more profitably, 
when we pass the whole of our work under review. 

Secondly, Who the Tope is, and whence he comes 

8. We must next notice who you are, and what your origin 
was. I have used the word origin , but I think I had better- 
pass that over and leave it to your perception. This I do say, 
that it would be an unworthy thing for you, knowing the 
perfection you have left, to stop short of the perfection which 
lies before you. Should you not blush to be a minnow among 
the whales when you remember that you were a whale among 
the minnows ? You have not forgotten your first profession ; 
it is taken out of your hands, but you still have some thought 
for it, and even affection. To keep it in view will not be 
unprofitable in the framing of your several commands, judge 
ments, ordinances. This consideration makes you a despiser 
of honour even in the midst of honour. And that is a great 
thing. Lay it to heart ; it is your shield to protect you from 
the arrow Man being in honour is without understanding . 1 
Say, therefore, to yourself, I was of low estate in the house of 
the Lord. What means this, that, poor and lowly though I 
was, I am raised to rule over peoples and kingdoms ? Who 
am ], or what is my father s house, that I should sit above 
dignitaries r He who said to me, Friend, go up higher , 2 
surely trusts that I shall be a friend. If I am found less, it is 

1 Ps. xlix. 13. a St. Luke xiv. 10. 

Book //, Chapter v 4f 

not indeed well with me. He who has raised me up can also 
cast me down. Too late should I complain, Thou hast taken 
me up and dashed me to the ground. 1 There must be no 
flattery of your exalted rank, when there is more cause for 
anxiety. The rank magnifies the danger, the anxiety manifests 
the friend ! Let us give good heed to this, unless we wish at 
length with shame to take the lowest place. 


The zeal befitting ecclesiastical rulers 

9. We cannot disguise the fact that we must most carefully 
observe why it is that you have been set above other men. I 
certainly do not think it is that you may exercise lordship over 
them. For even the prophet, when he was in like manner 
exalted, was told to pluck up and to break down, to destroy 
and to overthrow ; to build, and to plant . Which of these 
has the ring of pride in it ? Is it not more correct to say that 
the labourer s task typifies spiritual toil ? And if we are to 
think highly of ourselves, we should perceive that a burden of 
srma- is laid upon us, not the privilege of lordship bestowed. 
I am not greater than the prophet ; and if haply I am his 
equal in authority, still there is no comparison between our 
deserts. Speak thus to yourself, and do you who teach 
others teach yourself. Suppose you are as one of the prophets. 
Is not that enough for you ? Yes, and more than enough. 
But by the grace of God you are what you are. What is 
that ? Suppose you are a prophet, .ire you more than a 
prophet ? If you are wise you will be content with the 
measure wherewith God hath measured to you. For what is 
1 Pt. cii. 10. 2 Jer. i. IO. 

4.6 On Consideration 

more is of evil. Learn by the prophet s example to govern, 
not so much for the purpose of commanding as of doing what 
the time requires. Learn the lesson that, if you are to do the 
work of a prophet, what you want is not a sceptre, but a hoe. 
The prophet does not rise to reign, but to root out the weeds. 
Do you not think that you, too, may find something to be done 
in your Master s field ? Yes, and plenty of it. The prophets 
have surely not been able to clean all the ground ; they left 
something for their sons, the apostles, to do ; and your 
progenitors have left something for you. Nor will you prove 
equal to the whole task. You will assuredly leave something 
for your successor, and he for others, and 50 on to the end. 
Accordingly, we find that about the eleventh hour the labourers 
were rebuked for idleness, and sent into the vineyard. Your 
predecessors, the apostles, were told that the harvest was 
indeed plenteous, but the labourers were few V Claim for 
yourself the inheritance of your fathers. For if you are son, 
then you are also the heir. 2 That you may prove yourself to 
be the heir, diligently watch, and forgo sluggish ease, lest to 
you also it be said, Why standest thou here all the day idle ? 3 
10. Much less ought you to be found dissolved in luxury, 
or proudly exhibiting yourself. The will of the testator 
bequeaths to you nothing like this. Need I say that if you 
are content with its provisions you will inherit care and toil 
rather than glory and riches. Does Peter s chair flatter you ? 
It is a watch-tower whence, in a word, you exercise super 
vision ; the very name of bishop reminds you not of lordship, 
but of duty. How fitting it is that you are set on high where 
you can view all things, inasmuch as you are appointed watch 
man over all. In very truth the legitimate issue of that 
prospect is not ease, but readiness for battle. Where ease is 
1 St. Matt. ix. 37. - Gal. iv. 7. 8 St. Matt. xx. 6, 

Booh //, Chapter vi 47 

unlawful, what occasion is there for glorying ? And case is 
out of the question when you are burdened with the constant 
care of all the churches. It must be so ; for what else did 
the holy ajx>stle transmit to you ? Such as I have/ he says, 
4 give I thce. 1 What is that? One thing I know it is not 
gold, nor silver, for he himself says, -Sil\er and gold I have- 
not. 2 If you happen to have them, use them not for your 
own gratification, but to meet the necessities of the time. You 
will then be using them as though you used them not. In 
them^-Kes as regards man s spiritual welfare, they are 
neither good nor b^d ; yet the use of them is good, the 
pose is bad ; anxiety about them is worse ; the greed of 
gain still more disgraceful. Suppose that on the strength 
of some other plea you may claim them, you cannot do so by 
apostolic right. For the apostle could not give what he did 
not himself possess. What he had, that he gave the care, 
as I have said, of the churches. Did he bequeath to you 
lordship over them ? Hear what he says, Not lording it over 
the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves example- to 
the Hock. 3 And do not suppose that the words were prompted 
by humility only, and are not based on truth. In the Gospel 
there is the Lord s warning, The kings of the Gentiles hau 
lordship over them, and they that have authority over them are 
called Benefactors. * And then He adds, - But ye shall not 
be so. 5 It is quite clear; the apostles are forbidden to 
exercise lordship. 

i i . Go then, if you dare, and either, as a lord over God s 
heritage, assume the office of an apostle, or as an apostolic man 
exercise lordship. It is clear that you are debarred both. If 
you wish to have both together, you will lose both. You must 

1 Act*, iii. 6. a Ibid. 1 Pet. v. 3. 

4 St. Luke xxii. 25 Ibid. 

48 .On Consideration 

otherwise think yourself excepted from the number of those of 
whom God thus complains, They have reigned, but not by 
me ; they have been princes, and I knew it not. 1 Now if 
you like to reign without God, you have whereof to glory, but 
not before God. But if we uphold the prohibition, let us give 
heed to the commandment, He that is the greater among you, 
let him become as the younger ; and he that is chief, as he that 
doth serve. 2 Here is the apostolic pattern ; lordship is 
forbidden, service is enjoined ; and this latter is also com 
mended by the example of the Lawgiver Himself, who 
immediately adds, but I am in the midst of you as he that 
sen eth. 3 Who, then, would think he has nothing whereof 
to glory when he bears the title by which the Lord of Glory 
distinguished Himself? Rightly doth Paul glory therein 
when he says, Are they servants of Christ? so am I. 4 
And then he adds, I speak as one beside himself, I more. 
In labours more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, 
in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. Oh ! splendid 
service. What sovereignty does it not excel in glory ? If 
you must glory, the pattern of the saints is set before you, the 
glory of the apostles is your model. Does that seem to you 
insignificant.? Oh ! that some one would give me the power of 
becoming like the saints in glory ! The prophet cries aloud. 
* Thy friends, O God, are too honourable for me, their 
sovereignty hath grown too strong. 5 The apostle exclaims, 
God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. 6 

12. I would have you always glory in this the best sort 
of glory, that which apostles and prophets chose for them 
selves, and handed on to you. In your abundant labours, in 

1 Hos. viii. 4. 2 St. Luke xxii. 26. 3 Ibid. 27. 

4 2 Cor. xi. 23. 5 Ps. cxxxix. 17. Gal. vi. 14. 

Booh //, Chapter vi 49 

the cross of Christ, recognize your inheritance. Happy 
was the man who could say, I laboured more than all. 1 
Here is glorying, but there is in it no vanity, no softness, no 
pride. If the work alarms, the reward invites. For every 
man shall receive according to his work. And if he laboured 
more than all, still he did not do all that was to be done, and 
there is yet room. Go into your Lord s field, and diligently 
consider the dense thicket of thorns and thistles which, accord 
ing to the ancient curse, covers the ground even to this day. 
Go out, I say, into the world ; for the field is the world, and 
it is given into your charge. Go into it, not as a lordly owner, 
but as a steward, that you may see and attend to that whereof 
you must give account. Go, I would say ; traverse it with steps 
of zealous care, and careful zeal. For even they who were 
bidden go into all the world did not compass it with bodily 
presence, but with their forethought. And do you lift up as it 
were the eyes of your consideration, and see the lands, if they 
are not rather dry for burning than white for harvest. How 
often will what you took for the fruits of the earth, if you 
examine them carefully, prove to be briars ; nay rather, not even 
briars ; they are old and rotten trees, but certainly not fruit trees ; 
their only fruit is swine s food, acorns and husks. How long 
are they to cumber the ground ? If you go out, and clearly 
see them, will you not be ashamed that your axe is idle? 
Will you not be ashamed to have had the apostolic sickle put 
into your hand for nothing ? 

13. Once upon a time the patriarch Isaac had gone into 
this field ; it was when Rebecca first met him ; and, in the 
words of Scripture, he had gone out to meditate. 2 He went 
to meditate, you must go to extirpate. In your case medita 
tion should already have led the way : the time for acting is 
1 i Cor. xv. io. 2 Gen. xxiv. 63. 



5o On Consideration 

at hand. If you now begin to hesitate, it will be too late. 

According to the Saviour s counsel, 1 you should have first sat 

down, and estimated the work, gauged your strength, weighed 

your wisdom, ascertained the relative value of things, and 

calculated the cost of virtue. Come then, reckon that there 

is still time for casting up the account, although the time for 

meditation on the plan has gone by. If you have given your 

heart to the work, you must now give your tongue and hand 

as well. Gird on your sword, the sword of the Spirit, which 

is the word of God. 2 Glorify your right hand and arm 

by taking vengeance upon nations, by rebuking peoples, by 

binding their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters 

of iron. If you do these things, you honour both your 

ministry and yourself the minister. That is no ordinary 

sovereignty. In virtue of it you drive out evil beasts from 

your borders, so that your flocks may be safely led into their 

pastures. You will vanquish the wolves, but not lord it over 

the sheep, the care of which you of course undertook that you 

might feed them, not oppress them. If you have well 

considered who you are, you are not ignorant that this is your 

duty. Moreover, if you know and do not, it is sin to you. 3 

You have not forgotten the passage, the servant who knew 

his master s will, and did unworthy things, shall be beaten 

with many stiipes. 4 The prophets and apostles were wont 

to do as I suggest. They were brave in war, not voluptuaries 

robed in silk. If you are a son of apostles and prophets, do 

as they did. Prove the nobility of your descent by conduct 

such as theirs; the only source of their nobility was the 

ingenuousness of their character, and the fortitude of their 

faith. Through this they conquered kingdoms, wrought 

1 St. Luke xiv. 28. 2 Eph. vi. 17. 3 St. James iv. 17. 

4 St. Luke xii. 47. 

Book II, Chapter vi 5-1 

righteousness, gained promises in return. 1 Here is the con 
veyance of the inheritance of your fathers : I have put it before 
you, and in it you may see the portion which falls to you. Be 
clad with fortitude, and the inheritance is yours. Have faith, 
have wisdom, but the wisdom of the saints, which is the fear 
of the Lord, and you have what belongs to you. The whole 
ancestral estate is yours by clear right. Virtue is the richest 
estate. Humility is a good estate ; founded thereon the 
whole spiritual edifice grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 
Through humility some have even possessed the gates of their 
enemies. For which of the virtues is so mighty to subdue 
the pride of demons and the tyranny of men ? But though it 
be to every person alike a tower of strength from the face of the 
enemy, somehow or other, the greater the man the greater its 
acknowledged influence ; the more distinguished its possessor. 
the more distinction it confers. It is eminently so in the case 
of the chief pontiff. No gem in all his gorgeous attire shines 
with a clearer and a purer light. For the higher he is above 
his fellows, the more through his humility he conspicuously 
surpasses not only other men, but himself also. 

Who the Tope is (continued} 

14. I shall perhaps be blamed for leaving the first part of 
my subject inadequately treated, and going off into the second ; 
it will be said that my pen is beginning to tell what manner of 
man you ought to be, though it has not fully stated who you 
are. I suppose it blushed to see a man standing naked on the 

i Hcb. xi. 33. 
D 2 


f2 On Consideration 

pinnacle of power, and hastened to clothe him in the robes of 
office. Without these the more clearly you are seen the more 
unseemly you appear. Can the desolation of a city that is set 
on a hill be hid ? or the smoke of a lamp extinguished on the 
stand escape detection ? We remember An ape upon the 
house-top : a silly king upon the throne . Now lend me your 
ears as I sing my song ; it may not be altogether pleasant, but 
it will do you good. The union of exalted rank with a base 
spirit is a monstrosity ; so is the joining together of the chief 
seat and the lowest life ; or of a tongue that speaketh great 
things, and an idle hand ; or of much talk, and no fruit ; or of 
a severe look, and light conduct ; or of great authority, and no 
steadfastness. There is the mirror : let the foul countenance 
recognize itself, but you may rejoice that no resemblance to it 
is found in yours. Still I would have you look into the 
mirror lest haply, although you may have good grounds for 
self-satisfaction, there may not be wanting reasons for dis 
satisfaction. I would have you glory in the testimony of 
your conscience, but none the less I would have you humbled 
by that same testimony. It is seldom a man can say I know 
nothing by myself V You walk more warily in the ways of 
goodness if you take care that evil does not lurk there. 
Wherefore, as I have said, you should know yourself, so that 
in the difficulties of your position, and such difficulties do 
exist, you may not only enjoy a good conscience, but, what is 
more, may also learn your defects. For who is free from 
defects ? He lacks everything who thinks he lacks nothing. 
What if you are sovereign pontiff? Does it follow that 
because you are sovereign pontiff you are supremely perfect ? 
Let me tell you that you are at the bottom if you think you are 
at the top. Who is at the top ? He to whom nothing can 
1 i Cor. iv. 4. 

Book //, Chapter i-ii 5-3 

be added. You greatly err if you think you are the man. 
God forbid ! You are no^ of those who make dignities 
identical with virtues. You knew what virtue was before you 
were acquainted with rank. Let emperors and others who 
have not been afraid to be worshipped as divine enjoy that 
opinion : l Nebuchadnezzar for example, Alexander, An- 
tiochus, Herod. As for yourself, consider that you bear the 
title of * supreme not absolutely, but relatively. And when 
I say this, do not suppose that I am comparing your merits 
with other men s. I refer to functions of the ministry. Let 
a man so account of you as of a minister of Christ, and, 
without prejudice to the holiness of any one, beyond dispute 
the chief of ministers. I would you strove to be supreme in 
other respects, and did not think yourself supreme, or wish to 
be so regarded before you are. For how can you be pro 
ficient if you are already self-sufficient ? It follows that there 
must be no reluctance to find out what is lacking, or you will 
have to confess that you lack modesty. Say with your 
predecessor, k Not as though I had received, or were already 
perfect. 2 And again, I count not myself to have appre 
hended. 3 This is the knowledge of the saints ; it is far 
from that which puffeth up. He who adds this knowledge 
adds sorrow, 4 but it is a sorrow which no wise man ever seeks 
to escape . It is, forsooth, a healing sorrow, by means of 
which the deadly stupor of a hard and impenitent heart is 
excluded. This is why we deem him a wise man who could 
say My sorrow is ever in my sight . ft 1 must now gather up 
the fragments, if any remain, of the topic from which not long 
ago we turned aside. 

1 Viz. that dignities are identical with virtues 

2 Phil. iii. 12. 3 Ibid. * Kcclec. i. 18. \.\\viii. 17. 

5" 4 On Consideration 

The dignity and power of the Tope 

15. Come, let us still more closely investigate what you 
are, that is to say, the character you represent for a time in 
the Church of God. Who are you ? the chief priest, the 
sovereign pontiff. You are the prince of bishops, the head 
of the apostles ; in priority you are Abel, in government 
Noah, as a patriarch you are Abraham, in order Melchise- 
dech, in rank Aaron, in authority Moses, as a judge you are 
Samuel, in power Peter, in virtue of your anointing you are 
Christ. You are he to whom the keys have been committed, 
and the sheep entrusted. There are, indeed, other door 
keepers of heaven, and other shepherds of flocks, but as you 
have received both names in a manner different from the rest, 
so for you they bear a more glorious meaning. Other pastors 
have each their several flocks assigned to them ; to you all 
the flocks have been entrusted, one flock under one shepherd. 
Do you ask for proof of that ? It is the Lord s word. For 
to which, I will not say of the bishops, but of the apostles, 
have all the sheep been committed so absolutely and unre 
servedly ? If you love me, Peter, feed my sheep. ! What 
sheep ? Are we to say the people of such and such a city, 
or region, or, at all events, kingdom ? My sheep , He says. 
Is it not clear that He has not specified some, but committed 
to him all ? There is no exception where there is no dis 
tinction. And perhaps the fellow disciples of Peter were pre 
sent when our Lord by charging him, and no one else, with the 
care of all the flocks, commended to them all the unity of one 

1 St. John xxi. 15. 

Book //, Chapter viii ff 

flock and one shepherd, according as it is written, * My dove, 
my beautiful, my perfect, is but one. 1 Where there is unity 
there is perfection. The other numbers are not perfect, but 
admit of division, falling short of unity. Hence it is that 
other bishops, understanding the mystery, have shared the 
various nations between them. In fact, James, who seemed 
to be a pillar of the Church, 8 was content with Jerusalem, and 
gave up universal dominion to Peter. 3 Admirably was James 
placed there to raise up seed to his dear Brother in the place 
where his Brother was slain, for he was the Lord s brother. 
Now if the Lord s brother yielded to Peter, what other man 
can dare to trespass on Peter s prerogative ? 

1 6. So then, according to your own authorities, other 
bishops are called to a share in responsibility, you are called 
to the exercise of plenary power. The power of other men is 
confined within fixed limits ; yours extends to those who have 
power over their fellows. Have you not power, for sufficient 
reason, to shut heaven against a bishop, and even deliver him 
to Satan ? Your prerogative, therefore, whether the power of 
the keys or the pastorate of the Hocks, is unassailable. Let 
me point out something else no less confirmatory of your pre 
rogative. The disciples were in a boat when our Lord 
appeared, 4 and, which was more delightful still, appeared in 
His risen body. Peter, knowing that it was the Lord, cast 
himself into the sea, and thus reached his Master, while the 
rest came in the boat. What does that mean ? It was surely a 
sign of the unique pontificate of Peter, intended to show that 
while the others had charge, each of his own ship, he was en 
trusted with not one ship, but the government of the whole 
world. For the sea is the world, and ships are churches. Hence 

1 Cant. vi.8. 2 Gal. ii. <). s Ibid. i. 19. 

1 M. John xxi. 3, 4. 

$6 On Consideration 

it is that on another occasion, like his Lord, he walked upon 
the water, and thus proved himself the one and only Vicar of 
Christ, destined to rule over not one people, but all, that is if 
the "many waters are many peoples V So then while each 
of the other bishops has his own ship, you are in command of 
the greatest, the Universal Church throughout the world, the 
sum of all the other churches put together. 


Sf. Bernard invites the Tope to consider 
he is ty nature 

17. Now we see tube you are; but do not forget what you 
are. I, at all events, have not forgotten my promise to return 
to that point on a fitting occasion. And is it not most fitting 
to combine the consideration of who you are with the con 
sideration of what you previously were ? Why do I say 
were ? You are still what you were. Why cease to regard 
what you have not ceased to be ? What you have been, and 
what you are, is one and the same consideration ; your new 
official character is a different matter. In the scrutiny of 
yourself the one should not exclude the other. For you are, 
as I have said, still what you were, and no less what you 
were than what you have since become, perhaps even more. 
In fact you were that by nature ; this you have borrowed ; 
you have been changed into it. The former is not thrown 
away, the latter is thrown in. Let us treat them both together ; 
for, as I remember saying before, when they are compared 
one with the other they will both become more useful. When, 
1 Apoc. xvii. 15. 

Book II, Chapter /.v 57 

father back, you were considering what you are, I told you 
to consider your nature as a man : for you were born a man. 
Moreover, if a person inquire who you personally are, the 
answer will be the name of the character you sustain, viz. a 
bishop, and this you have become : that you were not by 
birth. Now which of these seems to you to be absolutely 
your own, and above all else to belong to you ? That which 
you have become, or that which you were born ? Must we 
not say that which you were born ? I therefore counsel you 
to mainly consider what you mainly are, that is to say, 
a man ; such you were by birth. 

1 8. Nor should you only observe what you were born, viz., 
a man, but also what manner of man, if you do not wish to be 
defrauded of the fruit and profit of your consideration. Away 
then with these hereditary girdles which have been accursed 
from the beginning. Tear to pieces the covering of leaves 
that conceal the shame but do not cure the wound. Strip off 
the disguise of this fleeting honour, and the tinsel of this sham 
glory, so that you may consider yourself in your bare naked 
ness, for naked you came out of your mother s womb. 1 Did 
you then wear the sacred fillet ? Had you then the glittering 
gems about your person ? Were you robed in flowery silks ? 
Did the plumes then wave upon your head ? Were you 
decked with gold and silver ? If you scatter all this like 
morning clouds quickly passing by and soon to altogether pass 
away, if you blow them from before the face of your considera 
tion, you will behold a man naked, poor, wretched, pitiable ; 
a man grieving that he is a man. blushing at his nakedness, 
weeping that he is born, complaining that he is a man born 
to toil, not to honour, 2 born of a woman and thereby a guilty 
crratui. . living but a little while and therefore in constant 
1 Job i. 21. 2 Ibid. v. 7. Ibid. xiv. I. 

y8 On Consideration 

fear, full of misery and therefore ever bathed in tears. And, 
truly, miseries abound, for they are those of body and soul 
together. How can he escape calamity who is born in sin, 
with a frail body and a barren mind ? Of a truth he must 
be full of misery, who through transmitted corruption, the 
sentence of death, bears the double load of weakness of body 
and foolishness of heart. It will do you good to unite these 
two considerations. While you think of yourself as supreme 
pontiff, bear in mind as well that you not only were, but are, 
worthless ashes. In your thinking, imitate nature; and, 
which is worthier of you, imitate the Author of nature, by 
associating the highest and the lowest things. Has not nature 
in the person of man bound together poor clay and the breath 
of life ? Has not the Author of nature in His own Person 
tempered together the Word and clay ? Take then for your 
pattern both our original constitution and the mystery of our 
redemption, in order that, though you sit on high, you may 
not be high-minded, but may think lowly of yourself, and 
condescend to men of low degree. 

W hat manner of man the Tope is 

19. Accordingly, if you consider how great you are, think 
also, and above all, what manner of man you are. This con 
sideration keeps you well within yourself 1 ; it surfers you not 
to fly from yourself, nor to walk in great matters, or in things 
too wonderful for you. 2 Take your stand within yourself; 
you will not then sink beneath your level, nor rise above it, 

1 See above. 2 Ps. cxxxi. I. R. V. Margin. 

Book 11, Chapter .v f9 

you will not go too far, nor spread out too wide. Keep to 
the middle if you wish to keep moderation. The mid way is 
the safe way. Moderation abides in the mean, and moderation 
is virtue, livery abiding place outside the bounds of modera 
tion is only exile to the wise man. Wherefore, he will not 
dwell in the length, that is, beyond moderation ; nor even in 
the breadth, that is, outside it ; nor, again, in the height, 
or in the depth, one of which is above moderation, the other 
beneath it. In fact length mostly implies going beyond 
bounds ; breadth may mean a rent, height a fall, and 
depth an abyss. I say these things the more plainly that 
you may not think I am repeating the apostle s exhortation 
to comprehend with all saints the length, and breadth, and 
height, and depth. 1 This belongs to another sort of discussion, 
and a different occasion. Just now by length I mean a 
man s promising himself a long life ; by k breadth , his being 
racked with sujx?rfluous cares ; by height , his trusting too 
much in himself; by depth , his being unduly depressed. Well 
then, if a man measures out for himself distant times, is he not 
really starting to go too far ? Is he not in his far-reaching 
anxiety passing the bounds of life ? Thus it is that men, 
exiled from themselves in this present life through forgetful- 
ness, are led by useless anxiety to migrate to distant ages, 
which will not profit, nay rather, may never be. Likewise, 
the heart which is spread over many things must of net 
be torn by many cares, and once it is too thin there comes 
a rent. Further, if a man have overweening confidence in 
himself, what is there for him but a headlong fall ? For you 
have read what is written, k Before a fall the heart is lifted 
up. M And on the side of excessive timidity, what is depres 
sion but in a sense the loss of oneself in despair ? A brave 
1 Kph. iii. 18. 2 Prov. xviii. 13. 

6o On Consideration 

man will not be so far depressed. A prudent man will not be 
misled by the uncertainty of a long life. A modest man will 
moderate his cares ; he will refrain from superfluities, and will 
not deny himself what is necessary. A righteous man, more 
over, will not venture on what is above him, but will say with 
righteous Job, If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my 
head. 1 

The necessity for self-examination 

20. Let me beg you, then, in this consideration of yourself 
to walk with caution. Let perfect equity be your companion, 
so that you may not allow yourself more than is due, nor 
deprive yourself of more than is right. Now you fall into the 
first of these errors not only by claiming goodness which you 
have not, but also by taking credit for goodness which you 
have. Carefully distinguish how far you are what you are 
through your^ own efforts, and how far through the gift of 
God, and let there be no deceit in your spirit. Deceit there 
will be unless you faithfully separate what belongs to yourself, 
and honestly surrender to God the things which are God s. 
I do not doubt that you are fully convinced that what is evil 
in you comes from yourself, your goodness from the Lord. 
Certainly while we consider what manner of man you are, we 
must also recall to memory the sort of man you were ; we 
must compare the end with the beginning. We must see 
whether you have advanced in virtue, in wisdom, in under 
standing, in sweetness of character, or whether, which God 
forbid ! you have fallen away. We must note whether you 

1 Jobx. 15. 

Book //, Chapter AY rti 

are more patient or more impatient than you were wont to be ; 
more prone to wrath, or more gentle ; more insolent, or more 
humble ; more affable, or more austere ; more easily entreated, 
or more obstinate; more pusillanimous, or more magnani 
mous ; more earnest, or somewhat more careless ; more filled 
with the fear of God, or, it may be, more confident than you 
ought to be. What a wide field lies before you in this kind of 
consideration ! I therefore mention a few points, indicating, as 
it were, some seed plots, though I am not myself the sower, 
but only the giver of seed to the sower. You should 
have a clear idea of your zeal, your clemency, and also your 
discretion, which is the regulator of both those virtues ; you 
should see what you are like in forgiving injuries and in 
avenging them ; how far on both sides you prudently regard 
degree, place, and time. In the practice of these three 
virtues these three things must be thoroughly considered, lest 
if the conditions be not satisfied the virtues cease to be 
virtues ; for there is nothing in their nature to make them 
virtues; they are such only by the right practice of them. 
They themselves tell us that they are indifferent . It is pos 
sible for you, either by abusing them, or by confounding them 
with one another, to turn them into vices ; on the other hand 
you may by the good and methodical use of them make them 
virtues. When the eye of discretion is darkened, they are 
wont to jump to conclusions and occupy their own stand 
points. Now there are two causes of this dim sight anger 
and excessive tenderness. The rebuke of judgement is en 
feebled by the latter, precipitated by the former. Must not 
a pious clemency be endangered on the one side, or a righteous 
zeal on the other ? The eye that is disordered through anger 
views nothing in the light of clemency ; the eye bedewed 
with tears of womanly tenderness does not see straight. You 

62 On Consideration 

will not be innocent if you either punish him to whom, it may 
be, mercy should be shown, or spare him who ought to have 
been punished. 


The spiritual effects of prosperity and 

21. And I would not have you disguise the manner of man 
you have found yourself in tribulations. If you have found 
yourself steadfast in your own, sympathetic in other men s, 
rejoice. Here you have evidence of an upright heart. On 
the contrary, if perchance you are found to be impatient in 
your own trials, and are nevertheless seen to be by no means 
compassionate in other men s, this is a mark of a heart full of 
perversity. How has it been with you in prosperity? Is 
there nothing to call for consideration ? Of course there 
is, if you carefully observe how seldom you find a man 
who does not, at least to some extent, in time of prosperity 
relax his vigilance and self-discipline. As regards discipline, 
when was not prosperity to the unwary what fire is to wax, or 
the rays of the sun to snow and ice ? David was wise, 
Solomon wiser; but, flattered by unlooked-for success, the 
one in part and the other altogether acted foolishly. He is 
a great man, who, when he falls into adversity, does not fall 
away at least a little from his wisdom ; and he is as great 
who has been favoured with the smiles of Fortune without 
becoming the butt of her ridicule. And yet it is easier to 
find men who have kept their wisdom when fortune was 
against them, than it is to find men who have not lost it when 
fortune was on their side. He deserves our choice, and he 

Booh //, Chapter .v/V 63 

is a great man, who in the days of prosperity has at all events 
withstood the stealthy approaches of unbecoming laughter, or 
rudeness of speech ; who has not bestowed too much attention 
upon dress, or pampered the body. 


Idleness, trifling, and profitless conversation 
to be shunned 

22. The wise man rightly admonishes us that if we are to 
write words of wisdom we must have leisure ; * still we must 
be on our guard even against leisure itself. We must accord 
ingly shun idleness, the mother of trifles, the step- mother of 
virtues. With men of the world trifles are trifles ; in the 
mouth of a priest they are blasphemies. Yet, if sometimes 
they occur in conversation, we must perhaps put up with 
them ; reply to them in the same strain we never ought. 
Rather we ought cautiously and prudently to put a stop to 
trifling. We should do our best to break out into something 
serious to which the company would listen not only with 
profit, but with pleasure, and refrain from idle talk. You 
have consecrated your mouth to the Gospel ; to open it for 
such things is unlawful, to accustom it to them is sacrilege. 
The lips of the priest, says one, keep knowledge, and 
men look for the law from his mouth ; a certainly not trifles, 
or idle tales. It is not enough that buffoonery, which they 
glorify as wit and polish, be removed far from your mouth ; 
it ought also to be banished far from your ear. It is an 

1 Ecclus. xxxviii. 35. - NU1. ii. 7- 

6 4 On Consideration 

abomination that you are moved to laughter, it is more abomin 
able for you to move others. But whether it is more dam 
nable to disparage a man, or listen to a disparager, I could 
not easily tell. 


The Tope warned against accepting the person 
of any 

23. I need not trouble you to look at avarice, for you are 
said to value money no more than chaff. 1 There is, assuredly, 
no reason to dread your judgements on that account. But 
there is a lurking danger which no less frequently, and no less 
banefully, besets the judgement seat ; and as regards this, 
I should be very sorry if any mischief were latent in your 
conscience, and you were unaware of it. Do you ask to 
what I refer ? The acceptance of men s persons. Consider 
y yourself guilty of no small sin if you welcome sinners, and do 
not rather decide the causes of the deserving. There is also 
another vice ; if you feel yourself to be free from it you will 
in my opinion sit in solitary state among all those whom 
1 have known to occupy the chair, because you have really, 
in a singular measure, raised yourself above yourself as the 
prophet says. 2 I mean an easy credulity, a very crafty little 

1 This was very rare, the property of the Church being claimed entirely 
by the Popes of the Middle Ages. Innocent II asserted the feudal right 
of the Roman Pontiff with much emphasis at the second Lateran Council 
(A.D. 1139). The Proctors of the Peers and Commons of England bit 
terly complained at the first Council of Lyons (A. D. 1245). See Hussey, 
Rise of the Papal Power, p. 189, &c. 

2 Lament, iii. 28. Vulg. 

Booh 11, Chapter xi 6<> 

fox, against whose tricks, so far as I have ascertained, not 
one of our great men has taken adequate precaution. That 
was why they were so often angry, all for nothing ; that was 
why they frequently abandoned the innocent, and delivered 
premature judgements against men who were not in court. 
But I congratulate you (and I am not afraid that you will 
brand me as a flatterer), I congratulate you, I say, on having 
hitherto presided without much complaint about any of these 
things ; whether you are also free from fault, see for your 
self. Now your consideration must be directed to those 
things which are below you. But here we start afresh ; for, 
bearing in mind your many occupations, the shorter the 
discourse the better. 



[ In the third Book St. Bernard treats of the consideration 
the Pope ought to have towards those that are under him, 
and they are the faithful throughout the world. There is 
no poison or arms that he ought to dread more than the spirit 
of tyranny. He next deals with the Pope s duty towards 
those not in the Church. He then protests against the 
abuse of Appeals to Rome, afterwards condemns the like 
abuse of Exemptions, discusses Dispensations, and concludes 
by urging Eugenius to see that strict discipline is maintained, 
and that ecclesiastical institutions are respected. He recom 
mends him more particularly to enforce the reforms enjoined 
at the Council of Rheims relating to the dress and manners 
of the clergy, as also those respecting the age and qualifica 
tions of such as were to be admitted to benefices (Du Pin). 

Appeals. The Sardican Canon (A.D. 347) gave the Pope 
power to receive appeals. Pope Nicholas (A.D. 867) asserted 
that no question in the Church could be decided without the 
consent of the Roman Pontiff. Gregory VII went further 
in holding that Councils and Canons derive their force from 
the authority of Rome. Thither, accordingly, every eccle- 
.siastical cause was to be carried for final determination. All 
Europe, and England especially, cried out against the grievous 
burden for centuries (Hussey, Rise of the Papal Power). 
The system, as St. Bernard knew it, was an elaborate fabric 
built up by the Canon Law of times subsequent to Charle 
magne upon the basis of the False Decretals. It was a 
grand innovation whereby in the West the entire system of 
purely ecclesiastical appeals (and indeed of justice) was in 
effect perverted and frustrated, viz. the right gradually allowed 
of appealing immediately from any ecclesiastical tribunal, high 
or low, upon any subject, great or small, to the Pope at once 
(Diet, of Christ. Antiq.). St. Bernard s Letters, 178, 179, 
1 80, refer to a case in point. 

Book 111 67 

Exemptions. In the earlier stages of their existence, 
monasteries generally availed themselves gladly of the patronage 
of the bishop of the diocese. But as they increased in wealth 
and power, they struggled to emancipate themselves from his 
control. . . . Instances might easily be multiplied of the 
almost continual collision in Western Christendom between 
the bishops and the monasteries in their dioceses ; in which 
the monasteries, almost invariably, had the support of the 
pope, and, frequently, of the royal authority (Diet, of Christ. 
Slntifj.). Sometimes a bishop, unless by invitation of the 
abbot or abbess, could not consecrate an altar, or even by 
invitation enter the more private parts of a convent. Nor 
could he hinder an appeal to Rome. On the other hand, it 
must in justice be stated that the oppressive conduct of the 
bishops necessitated some refuge from their arbitrary juris 
diction. The grossness of the tyranny practised by some 
bishops may be inferred from the fact that the monastic bodies 
often appealed against it in synods, and that these, although 
composed of bishops, felt themselves obliged to condemn ;t 
in strong terms and to forbid its continuance (Robertson, 
Ch. Hist., Second Period, Bk. I, ch. ix, p. 202). 

Monastic life. Church s Life of Anselm, ch. iii, on The 
Discipline of a Norman Monastery , may be profitably con 
sulted; also Morison s St. Bernard, pp. 16 sq., 126-33. The 
Cistercian order, to which St. Bernard belonged, was founded 
A. D. 1098 by Robert, son of a nobleman in Champagne. 
His successor at Citeaux, Alberic, laid down the rule for the 
new order, and it was afterwards carried out with greater rigour 
by the third abbot, Stephen Harding, an Englishman, and one of 
Robert s original companions, whose code, entitled the "Charter 
of Love", was sanctioned by Pope Calixtus in A.D. 1119. 
The Cistercians were to observe the rule of St. Benedict, 
without any glosses or relaxations. Their dress was to be 
white, agreeably to a pattern which the Blessed Virgin had 
shown to Alberic in a vision. They were to accept no gifts 
of churches, altars, or tithes. From the ides of September 
to Easter they were to eat but one meal daily. Their monas 
teries were to be planted in lonely places ; they were to eschew 
all pomp, pride, and superfluity ; their services were to be 

E 2 

<58 On Consideration 

simple and plain ; some of the ecclesiastical vestments were 
discarded, and those which were retained were to be of 
fustian or linen, without any golden ornaments. They were 
to have only one iron chandelier ; their censers were to be of 
brass or iron ; no plate was allowed, except one chalice and a 
tube for the eucharistic wine, and these were, if possible, to be 
of silver gilt, but not of gold. The monks were to give 
themselves wholly to spiritual employments, while the secular 
affairs of the community were to be managed by the bearded 
or lay brethren. No serfs were allowed, but hired servants 
were employed to assist in labour. In the simplicity of their 
church services and furniture, the Cistercians differed from 
the Cluniacs, whose ritual was distinguished for its splendour ; 
the elder order regarded the principles of the younger as a 
reproach to itself, and a rivalry soon sprang up between 
them. The white dress, which, although already adopted at 
Camaldoli, was a novelty in France, gave offence to the other 
monastic societies, who had worn black habits as a symbol of 
humility, and regarded the new colour as a pretension to 
superior righteousness ; but the Cistercians defended it as an 
expression of the joy which became the angelic life of 
the cloister (Robertson, p. 706 ; Fleury, Hist. Ecc., 
Bk. LXVII, c. 48). St. Bernard is said to have founded 
some 1 60 monasteries; at the general chapter in A.D. H5 1 
there were 500 ; in the following century the number had 
increased to 1,800, and eventually became much greater. 
The order grew rich, and reforms were necessary, but until 
the rise of the Mendicants they were the most popular of all the 
monastic societies. 

Council of Rheims (1148). The chief canons related to 
non-residence ; chaplains accepting posts without permission 
of the bishop, and taking the oath of canonical obedience ; the 
arrest, &c., of the clergy ; the avoidance by the bishops and 
clergy of coloured garments, divided skirts, and superfluous 
ornaments ; marriages of religious ; appropriation of tithes 
by the laity ; putting benefices into commission , and the 
appointment of a particular priest to each benefice with 
adequate maintenance ; penance for incendiaries ; the treatment 
of Manichean heretics (Fleury,^fj/. Ecc., Bk.LXIX, c. 31.)] 

Booh III) Chapter i 69 


The Tope should aim not at subjecting all men 
to himself^ but at bringing them into the 
bosom of the Church 

i. The end of the previous book suggests the beginning of 
this. And so, according to my promise, we must consider the 
things that are under you. You cannot think it necessary to 
ask me what they are, Eugenius, best of priests ; it were 
better perhaps to ask what they are not. If a man wishes to 
discover what does belong to your charge, he must go out of 
the world. Your progenitors were destined to vanquish the 
whole world, not certain portions of it. Go ye into all 
the world ! was the command given to them. They indeed 
sold their garments and bought swords, fiery eloquence, and 
an ardent spirit, weapons powerful in the sight of God. 
Whither did not those illustrious conquerors come, those sons 
of the mighty ? 2 Whither did they not send their sharp 
arrows with hot scorching coals? 3 Indeed their sound went 
forth into all the earth and their words to the ends of the 
world. 4 Those words of flaming iire which the Lord sent 

1 St. Mark xvi. 15. 

1 Ps. cxxvii. 4. The Hebrew has sons of the youth , or sons of 
one s youth , which the Septuagint translators misunderstanding rendered 
filii excuswrurn. The Vulgate perpetuated the blunder. St. Jerome 
(Letter to Marcella on the Exf option of the Psalm] I thank the Bishop 
of Gloucester for the reference in an interesting discussion of the passage 
negatives the view that the apostles could be called exeunt; iiia*much,he 
says, as they shook off the dust of their feet they would more fitly be 
called excutientts. In ordinary speech, St. Jerome adds, excussi was 
regarded as the equivalent of ves^fti, r<ibti^ti, i x/eili i. 

\ ?. c.x.x. 4. 4 Ps. xix. 4. 

70 On Consideration 

into the earth made men s hearts glow in their inmost depths. 
Those indefatigable warriors fell on the field of battle, but 
they fell unconquered : even in death they triumphed. Their 
sovereignty was established beyond measure : l they were 
made princes in all lands. 2 You have succeeded to their 
inheritance. So you are their heir, and the world is your 
inheritance. But the exact nature of your interest and theirs 
in this heritage is a matter for sober and careful consideration. 
For I do not think you have inherited the world absolutely, 
but with certain limitations ; as it seems to me you have 
been entrusted with a stewardship over it, not put in possession 
of it. If you go on to usurp possession, He withstands you 
who says Mine is the world and the fulness thereof . 3 
You are not the King of whom the prophet speaks And 
all the earth shall be His possession . 4 He means Christ, 
who claims possession both by right of creation, and by the 
merits of redemption, and by the gift of the Father. For to 
whom else has it been said, Ask of me and I will give thee 
the Gentiles for thine inheritance, and the utmost bounds of 
the earth for thy possession ? 5 Surrender possession and 
dominion to Him ; keep for yourself the care thereof. This 
is your share : put not forth your hand beyond it. 

2. What? you say, You grant me precedence: do 
you prohibit sovereignty ? Most certainly. You speak as if 
pre-eminence in watchful care were not good pre-eminence. Is 
not the farm in the care of the steward, and the child, though 
he be master, subject to the tutor ? Nevertheless, the steward 
does not own the farm, nor is the tutor master of his master. 
I would have you also so take precedence that you may 
provide, counsel, administer, serve. Let your precedence be 

1 Ps. cxxxix. 17. Vulg. a Ps. xlv. 16. 

3 Ps 1. 12. 4 Ps. civ. 24. D Ps. ii. 8. 

Booh 111) Chapter i j\ 

profitable to others ; take precedence like a faithful and wise 
servant * whom his Lord hath set over his household \ 3 For 
what purpose ? That you may give them food in due season ; 
in other words, may manage, not command. Do this ; and 
inasmuch as you too are a man, do not aim at lording it over 
other men, lest all unrighteousness gain dominion over you. 3 
But I have already pressed this upon you more than enough in 
discussing who you are. Yet I add this much ; for I dread no 
poison for you, no sword more than the lust of dominion. If 
you are not greatly deceived, you surely think you have received 
no more from the great apostle than I have said ; to claim this 
is to take much upon yourself. Recall the words of him who 
said k I am a debtor both to the wise and to the foolish . 4 
And if your judgement tells you that the admonition is super 
fluous, please remember also that the offensive name of 
k debtor suits a servant better than a master. The servant 
in the Gospel was asked How much owest thou unto my 
Lord ? 5 So then, if you acknowledge that you are not 
lord over the wise and the foolish, but a debtor to them, you 
must be exceedingly careful, and must with unceasing vigilance 
consider how those who lack wisdom may become wise, how 
the wise may be prevented from turning to folly, how those 
who have turned to folly may recover their senses. But no 
sort of folly, so to speak, is more foolish than unbelief. So 
then you are a debtor also to the unbelieving, both Jews and 

3. We perceive then that you must strive to the utmost 
that they who have not faith may be turned to faith, that they 
who have turned may not turn aside, that they who have thus 

1 Prnesis, ul prosis As you are before the rest, so be for them. 

2 St. Matt. xxiv. 45. 3 Ps. cxix. 133. 
4 Rom. i. 14. ft Luke xvi. 5. 

72- On Consideration 

turned may turn back ; moreover, you must see that the 
perverse ones be set in the paths of uprightness, and the 
subverted recalled to truth ; that the subverters of men s souls 
may be convinced by invincible reason, so that they themselves, 
if possible, may either be cured of their errors, or, if that may 
not be, they may lose their authority, and the power of 
subverting other men. You must certainly not allow yourself 
to be imposed upon by the worst sort of foolish men, I mean 
heretics and schismatics ; for these are they who are subverted, 
and subvert ; they are dogs to tear, foxes to deceive. Men, 
I say, of this sort must be corrected with special care lest 
they perish, or must be restrained that they may not do 
damage. As regards the Jews, I grant time may be your 
excuse ; they have their fixed limit, which cannot be antici 
pated. The fullness of the Gentiles must first come in. 
But as regards the Gentiles themselves, what answer do you 
make ? Nay rather, what is the verdict of your consideration 
on this long delay ? Why did the fathers resolve to set bounds 
to the Gospel, and to check the word of faith, while men s 
hearts are hardening in unbelief? Why, do we suppose, the 
word running very swiftly suddenly stopped ? ] Who was 
the first to forbid its life-giving progress ? Some unknown 
cause perhaps hindered them ; perhaps necessity compelled 

4. Our pretences will not bear examination. Can we with 
confidence and a good conscience refrain from even offering 
Christ to those who have Him not ? Do we hold back the 
truth of God in unrighteousness ? The fullness of the Gen 
tiles must certainly come some day. Are we waiting for the 
faith to fall from heaven upon them ? Who ever believed by 
accident ? How shall they believe without a preacher ? 2 
1 Ps. cxlvii. 15. 2 Rom. x. 14. 

Booh ///, Chapter i 73 

Peter was sent to Cornelius, 1 Philip to the Eunuch ; 2 and if 
we seek a more modern instance, Augustine was appointed by 
Gregory of blessed memory to deliver the mould of faith to 
the English. 3 Look at things from this point of view. A 
word more about the obstinacy of the Greeks who are with 
us, and yet are not with us ; united by the bond of faith, and 
yet not on terms of peace. 4 Though, to speak accurately, 
they have in the matter of faith itself halted and wandered 
from the right paths. So also respecting heresy, which is 
quietly creeping in almost everywhere ; in some cases is openly 
raging. For on all sides, and in public too, it is eager to 
swallow the Church s little ones/ Do you ask where? Your 

1 Acts x. 20. 2 Acts viii. 26. 3 Bright, Early Eng. Ch. Hist., ch. ii. 

4 St. Bernard probably refers particularly to the dispute respecting the 
Procession of the Holy Ghost, which for nearly a thousand years seemed 
to the contending parties to be of such importance as to justify the rent 
between East and West . The Council of Constantinople (A. D. 381) 
had inserted in the Creed of the Council of Nice (A.D. 325) the words, 
"proceeding from the Father " ; and the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) 
had decreed that no addition should be made to that Creed henceforth. 
Accordingly, the Greek fathers uniformly declared their belief in the pro 
cession of the Holy Ghost from the Father. The Latin fathers, on the 
other hand, having regard to those passages of Scripture which speak of 
the Spirit of Christ, and of the Spirit as sent by the Son, continually spoke 
of the Holy Ghost as proceeding from the Father and the Son. In spite 
of the decree oC the Council of Ephesus the Churches of France and Spain 
did add to the Creed of Constantinople the words and the Son . The 
contest was renewed at intervals with mutual excommunications, and thus 
in the eleventh century arose the schism which has never since been healed. 
The reconciliation attempted at the Council of Florence (A.D. 1442) was 
only superficial, and was repudiated by the Greeks. Stanley, Eastern 
Church; Robertson, Ck. Hut. ; Harold Browne, Thirty-Nine Articles; 
Mosheim, Cent. XV, &c. 

6 The heresy which St. Bernard has in mind is apparently that of the 
Henricians, so called after their founder, Henry, an Italian monk, hermit, 
a:id ardent reformer. St. He-nurd s influence proved too great for him 

74 On Consideration 

own officials who often visit the South know where these 
heretics are, and can tell you. They go to and fro in their midst, 
or right through them, but what good they have so far done 
we have yet to learn. We might perhaps have heard of some 
good if the salvation of the people of Spain had not been as 
nought in comparison with gold. It is your duty to provide 
a remedy for this scourge also. 

5. But there is a species of folly which has already nearly 
stultified the wisdom of faith itself. It is incredible to what 
an extent this venom has infected almost the whole Catholic 
Church. For while we are all of us seeking our own therein, 
it happens that envying one another, provoking one another, 
we are harassed till we hate one another, and are moved to 
do wrong ; we arm ourselves for legal strife, quibble and 
sophisticate, rush into slanderous accusations, burst into male 
dictions, are oppressed by those who are stronger than our 
selves, and in our turn oppress those who are weaker. How 
worthy and laudable an occupation for the meditation of your 
heart to discover some antidote for this deadly sort of folly, 
which you contemplate in possession of the very body of 
Christ, which is the blessed company of all faithful people ! 
O ambition ! the cross of the ambitious, how is it that though 
you torture all, you please all ? Nothing causes more excru 
ciating torment, or more vexing disquietude ; and yet nothing 
creates more bustle and stir among mortal men than its affairs. 
Is it not true that the thresholds of the apostles are worn 

even at Toulouse, where his mission was highly popular. At the Council 
of Rheims (A.D. 1148) he was condemned by Eugenius 111 and committed 
to prison. There he died not long after. He rejected the baptism of 
infants, severely censured the corrupt and licentious manners of the clergy, 
treated the festivals and ceremonies of the Church with the utmost con 
tempt, and held clandestine assemblies in which he explained and incul 
cated the novelties he taught. See Mosheim, Cent. XII. 

Book ///, Chapter i 7$ 

more by the footsteps of ambition than by those of devotion ? 
Does not your palace all day long re-echo the tones of its 
voice ? Is not the enriching of ambition the object of the 
whole toiling practice of the laws and canons ? Is not all 
Italy a yawning gulf of insatiable avarice and rapacity for the 
spoils it offers ? What is it, or rather what else is it, that, 
I will not even say cuts m/o, but cuts off your own spiritual 
pursuits ? How often has this restless and disquieting mis 
chief caused your holy and faithful leisure to miscarry ! It is 
one thing for the oppressed to appeal to you ; it is quite another 
for ecclesiastical ambition to make a tool of you by seating 
itsdf on the throne. You should not fail the former, nor in 
the least give way to the latter. Yet how iniquitously ambi 
tion is fostered, while the oppressed are scorned ! Neverthe 
less you are a debtor to both, to the oppressed that you may 
lift them up, to the ambitious that you may put them down. 


The limits of appeals to the Apostolic Sec 

6. And as we have come upon the question of appeals, it 
will not be irrelevant to pursue the subject somewhat farther. 
For the conduct of them a deeply religious insight is required, 
so that what was intended to meet a great need may not be 
rendered useless through abuse. It seems to me that they 
may even be productive of much mischief if they are not em 
ployed with the utmost moderation. Men appeal to you 
from all over the world. It is a proof of your singular 
primacy. But if you are wise you will rejoice not in your 
primacy, but in its fruitfulness. The apostles were told not 
to rejoice in the spirits being subject to them. 1 Men appeal 
1 St. Luke x. 20. 

7 6 On Consideration 

to you, as I have said, and I would the resulting benefit were 
equal to the necessity. Would that when the oppressed cries 
the oppressor might have reason to know it ! Would that the 
wicked in his pride did not consume the poor ! What so 
fitting as for the oppressed to call upon your name and find 
a refuge, but that the crafty should not escape ? What on 
the other hand is so perverse, so unfair, as that the wrong 
doer should rejoice, and he who has suffered wrong should be 
harassed for nothing ? You sadly lack humanity if you are 
not drawn towards a man whose heart is full of grief through 
the wrong which has been done him, the toilsome journey, 
and the expenses which he has incurred. But there is a no less 
sad lack of spirit if you are not roused against him who 
is partly the direct, partly the indirect, cause of so many 
calamities. Rouse thee, man of God, when these things 
happen ; let both your pity and your indignation be stirred. 
The one you owe to the injured, the other to him who inflicts 
the injury. Let the former be consoled for his losses, by 
satisfaction for his wrongs, by putting a stop to the malicious 
charges ; let the latter be so handled that he may be sorry for 
having done what he was not afraid to do, and may not laugh 
at the punishment of the innocent. 

7. I think he ought no less to suffer who has appealed 
without cause. You have the rule of justice based on the 
fixed principles of divine equity, and, unless I am mistaken, 
also enjoined by the very law regulating appeals. This pro 
vides that an unlawful appeal must not benefit the appellant, 
nor prejudice the defendant. Why should a man be harassed 
for nothing ? It is perfectly just that he who wished to injure 
his neighbour should instead injure himself. To unjustly 
appeal is to do injustice ; to unjustly appeal and escape scot- 
free only lights the fire of unjust appeals. Now every appeal 

Book III, Chapter ii 77 

is unjust which is not necessitated by the failure of justice. 
An appeal is lawful only when you are wronged ; it is not a 
means of wronging some one else. The appeal must be from 
a judicial sentence. To anticipate the sentence by an appeal 
unless some wrong was clearly going to be done, admits of no 
justification. He therefore who appeals when no such wrong 
threatens, obviously purposes wrong to another man, or to gain 
time. An appeal is not a subterfuge, but a refuge. How 
many have we known to appeal after defeat only that while 
the appeal was pending they might without let of law indulge 
in what is never lawful ! The permission to appeal has in 
some cases, we know, left men unmolested for the whole of 
their lives in the commission of execrable crimes, incest, for 
example, or adultery. How comes this about, that what 
ought to be the terror of villains is found protecting villainy ? 
How long will you pretend not to notice, or will really not 
herd, the murmurs of the whole earth ? How long do you 
mean to sleep ? How long will it be before your considera 
tion awakes to this gigantic confusing and abusing of appeals ? 
They are contrary to laws human and divine, contrary to 
custom and established order. There is no distinction of 
place, degree, time, cause, or person. These frivolous, and, 
in most cases, useless anticipatory appeals come from all sides. 
Was not the Court of Appeal wont to be the special terror of 
malicious offenders ? At the present time with its assistance 
they are themselves a terror, and that to good men. The 
antidote is turned to poison. The change is not the work of 
the right hand of the Most High. 

8. Good men have appeals brought against them by the bad 
to prevent their doing good, and in terror at the voice of your 
thunder they forbear. Kven bishops are appealed against that 
they may not dare to dissolve unlawful marriages, or prohibit 

78 On Consideration 

them. They are appealed against that they may not presume 
to punish in the least degree, or check rapine, theft, sacrilege, 
and crime of that description. They are appealed against 
that they may be powerless to close the sacred offices against 
unworthy or infamous persons, or deprive them when admitted. 
What remedy are you seeking to discover for this disease, so 
that what was devised as a remedy be not found unto death ? 
The Lord was zealous for the house of prayer when it was 
made a den of robbers l ; do you, his minister, disguise the 
fact that the refuge of the wretched has been made an arsenal 
of iniquity ? On all sides you may see the oppressed fore 
stalled, and those who are eager to appeal are not the wronged, 
but those who wish to do wrong. Here is a mystery. What 
is the explanation ? It is for you to consider, not for me to 
study the matter. And do you ask why the victims of these 
appeals do not come to prove their innocence, and show the 
malice of their opponents ? I will tell you what the usual 
answer is We don t care to be troubled for nothing. In 
the court there are men too ready to favour the appellants and 
foster appeals. If we are to give way at Rome, it is better 
to give way at home. 

9. I confess that I partly believe this. In this vast number 
of appeals, which are of daily occurrence, can you show me 
an appellant who has even repaid the travelling expenses of the 
defendant ? It would be passing strange if all the appellants 
were, as this implies, after your investigation, found to be in 
the right, and those appealed against in the wrong. Love 
righteousness , saith the Scripture, * ye that be judges of the 
earth. 2 It is a small thing to keep righteousness, unless you 
love it as well. They who keep it do no more ; they who 
love it are zealous for it. A lover of righteousness inquires 

1 St. Matt. xxi. 13. 2 Wisd. of Sol. i. i. 

Book Iff, Chaffer ii 79 

for righteousness, and follows after it ; he, moreover, follows 
up all unrighteousness. You have nothing in common with 
those men who think appeals good sport. I am ashamed to 
quote the saying which among the heathen has become a 
proverb We have roused two fat stags. To speak more 
gently, there is more wit than justice in this. Do you, if you 
love righteousness, not encourage appeals, but tolerate them. 
Still, it is but little that the Churches of God gain through the 
righteousness of a single individual when the prevalent views 
are those of men differently disposed. That, however, will 
be discussed elsewhere, when we begin to deal with the things 
around you. 

10. Now do not think it a waste of time to find leisure for 
considering how you may restore appeals, if possible, to their 
lawful use. If you hereupon inquire, or rather care to know, 
what I think, I say that as appeals are not to be despised, so 
neither are they to be at all unlawfully used. And I should 
find it hard to say which of these, in my opinion, indicates the 
greater insolence, were it not that it seems as though the 
unlawful use must of necessity induce some measure of 
contempt, and for this reason, because it is more injurious, it 
ought perhaps to be more vigorously followed up. Is it not 
really more injurious, bad in itself, bad in its offspring ? Is it 
not this unlawful use which either weakens the authority of 
the very law of nature, or nullifies it altogether ? Can a man 
receive anything better than the sacraments ? If, however, 
they are wrongfully used by the unworthy, or are unworthily 
handled, they are by no means received. They bring the 
greater damnation, because they are not duly reverenced. I 
allow that appeals are a great blessing to the world at large, as 
necessary as the sun itself to mortal men. In fact they are 
as it were a sun of righteousness, bringing to light and 

8o On Consideration 

convicting the works of darkness. They are by all means 
to be cherished and upheld, but only those which are 
demanded of necessity, not those devised by craft and cunning. 
All unlawful appeals are of this description ; they do not help 
in time of need, they only minister to iniquity. They could 
not fail to become contemptible. How many defendants have 
in answer to such appeals even abandoned their rights that 
they might not be worn out by a long and fruitless journey ? 
Yet there have been more who, unable to endure the loss 
of their own, have shown but scant respect^ for these 
unsuitable appeals and for personages bearing great names. 

ii. Let me tell of a case in point. A certain man had 
publicly betrothed his future wife. The solemn day of 
marriage had arrived. All things were ready; many guests 
were invited ; when lo ! a man who coveted his neighbour s 
wife all at once announced his intention of appealing, on the 
ground that the lady had been first given to him and ought to 
belong to him. The bridegroom was thunderstruck ; there 
was a dead-lock ; the priest did not dare to proceed ; all the 
preparations were thrown away ; everybody went off to eat his 
supper at home; the bride was barred from bed and board 
until after the return journey from Rome. This befell a 
resident in Paris, a noble city of Gaul and the home of 
royalty. On another occasion, in the same city, a certain man 
became engaged and fixed the day for the wedding. Mean 
while a false report got abroad that the parties ought not to be 
united. The case was referred to the judgement of the 
Church, but without the least expectation of a decision on the 
appeal. There was no case, no allegation. The only object 
in view was to delay and frustrate the marriage. But the 
bridegroom, whether it was that he did not choose to make his 
preparations for nothing, or that he would not brook the disap- 

Book ///, Chapter ii 81 

pointment and be so long kept from the woman he loved, either 
treated the appeal with contempt, or feigned ignorance of it, and 
went through with what he had purposed. To take a recent 
case, what are we to say of the extraordinary presumption of a 
certain young man belonging to the church at Auxerre ? The 
holy bishop having died, the clergy, according to custom, wished 
to elect another; but the young man in question intervened 
with an appeal, and forbade anything to be done until after his 
return from Rome ; and yet to that very appeal he laid no 
information. For when he saw that he was treated with 
contempt for appealing unreasonably, he called together such 
friends as he could three days after the others had made their 
choice, and got himself elected. 

12. It is clear from these and countless other instances that 
the unlawful use of appeals does not arise from the contempt 
for them, but that the contempt of them springs from the 
unlawful use. See, therefore, why it is that your zeal and 
energy almost constantly vindicate the contempt, and throw 
a veil over the unlawful use. Do you wish to more com 
pletely bridle contempt ? Take care that the infant growth is 
strangled in the very womb of its abandoned mother. And 
this will be done if the unlawful use meets with suitable 
punishment. Stop the unlawful use, and there will be no 
excuse for contempt. Further, when there is no excuse, 
audacity will be hissed off the stage. Let there be, then, no 
usurer of the privilege, and there will be no despiser, or very 
seldom. You do well in refusing to sanction such appeals, or 
countenance the trickery, and in leaving much of the business 
to those who are familiar with the details, or can quickly be 
come so. For the easier investigation is made, and the more 
certain its results, the sooner will the decision be given, and 
the sounder will it be. What gracious condescension it is in 


8 2 On Consideration 

you to thus spare so many men enormous trouble and expense ! 
But you must take particular care in selecting those whom 
you trust so much. I might add many useful hints on the same 
subject ; but I am mindful of my purpose, and, content with 
giving you an opportunity of making the addition, I pass to 
other things. 

Chunk rulers are for the profit of their people 

13. And I suppose I must certainly not pass over the first 
thing that occurs to me. You are at the head of affairs, 
without a rival. Why are you thus placed ? The question, I 
tell you, requires consideration. Is it that you may become 
great through those beneath you ? By no means, but that you 
may make them great. They have chosen you chief, but for 
their own sake, not for yours. If it is not so, can you reckon 
yourself above the very persons for whose favours you are a 
candidate ? Listen to the Lord s words, They who have 
authority over them are called benefactors. * That, how 
ever, relates to them that are without. What has it to do 
with us ? You are falsely so called if you aim not so much 
at being a benefactor as at ruling your benefactor. A man 
shows a poor spirit when he seeks not the welfare of those 
beneath him, but to make his own profit out of them. Such 
conduct is specially discreditable in a commander-in-chief. 
How beautifully did the Master of the Gentiles express his 
opinion that parents ought to lay up for the children, not 
children for the parents. 2 He several times says, and it is a 
glorious saying, Not that I seek a gift, but fruit. 3 But now 

1 St. Luke xxii. 25, 2 2 Cor. xii. 14 3 Phil. iv. 17. 

Booh III, Chapter Hi 83 

let us pass on, lest some one find my lingering here an 
indication of avarice in you ; though how far you are removed 
from that vice I testified in a former book. For I know what 
tempting offers you have refused, and how deep your poverty 
was when you refused them If, then, I write such things to 
you, it is not that you require the admonition. Surely what is 
written for your profit ought not to profit you only. I am 
here censuring avarice, a vice from which your character is 
safe enough ; whether the censure is necessary is for you to 
decide. I will say, however, not to mention the offerings of 
the poor, which you cannot bear to touch, that we have seen 
the German money-bags dwindling down ; the bags were not 
smaller, but the price paid was less. Silver was counted as 
hay. The Sagmarii reluctantly went home with their bundles 
as heavy as when they came. A new thing ! Was Rome 
ever known to refuse gold ? Even now we do not believe 
such practice commends itself to the Romans. Two men 
came to Rome, both wealthy, both culprits. One belonged 
to Mayence, the other to Cologne. Favour was freely shown 
to one ; the other, unworthy, I suppose, of any favour, was 
told, * The same robe you wore when you came in you will 
wear when you go out. What a glorious saying ! The 
very words of apostolic freedom. Was it one whit inferior 
to Peter s, Thy money perish with thee ? ! The only 
difference is that the latter has more zeal, the former more 
modesty. What did the man get by coming from over sea, 
almost from the ends of the earth, crossing sea and land to 
purchase a bishopric twice over, once with his own money, 
once with other men s ? For he had already bought it once. 
He brought much with him, but he took it back ; not all, 
however. The poor wretch fell into other hands than yours, 
1 Acts viii. jo. 
F 2 

84 On Consideration 

more mighty to receive than to give. You did well to keep your 
hands clean both ways ; you would not lay them on the head 
of an ambitious man, nor lay them under the unrighteous 
mammon. You did not thus hold aloof from a poor bishop, 
whom I could name, but you gave him something to give, so 
that he mighty not be called stingy ; he secretly received from 
you what he openly gave. You thus with your own purse 
shielded the man from exposure ; and at the same time by 
humouring the court, he (thanks to your kindness) escaped 
the dislike of those who love gifts. You cannot hide the deed ; 
we know both the facts and the person. Does the story 
displease you ? The more averse you are to hearing it, the 
greater pleasure I have in telling it. If it is good for you one 
way, it is good for me another. Where the glory of Christ 
is concerned I am under no such obligation to silence, as you 
are to refrain from seeking your own glory. And if you go 
on complaining, I will answer you out of the Gospel, The 
more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they 
published it, saying, he hath done all things well. } 


Ecclesiastical rank and dignity to be respected. 
The abuse of privileges and exemptions. 

i 4. There is something else if it be something else, for 
it might perhaps be said to be part of the same subject and 
let your consideration give good heed to it. He does not appear 
to be far from the truth who thought that what I am about to 
speak of should be classed as a variety of avarice. For my- 

1 St. Mark vii. 36. 

Booh III, Chapter iv 85- 

self, I would not deny either that it is a kind of avarice, or 
that it looks like avarice. At all events if you aim at per 
fection you should shun not only things bad in themselves, but 
things that have the appearance of evil. In the one case you 
have regard to your conscience, in the other to your reputa 
tion. A particular line of conduct under different circum 
stances may be lawful ; nevertheless, if it does not look well, 
deem it unlawful. In a word, ask your ancestors, and they 
will answer, Abstain from every appearance of evil. l Let 
the Lord s servant by all means imitate his Lord, for He 
Himself says, If any man serve me, let him follow me/ 2 
And concerning Him you know it is said, The Lord hath 
reigned, he hath put on beauteous apparel, he hath clothed 
himself with strength. 3 Be you also strong in faith, beau 
teous in glory, and you have shown yourself an imitator of 
God. Your strength is the confidence of a faithful conscience, 
your beauty is the splendour of a good character. So then, 
I beseech you. be clothed with strength, for your strength is 
the joy of the Lord. Moreover, He delights in your fair 
beauty no less, as it were, than in His own likeness. Put on 
your glorious vestments ; be clothed with the two robes 
wherewith the virtuous 4 woman was wont to clothe her house 
hold. Let there not be in your conscience a trace of a weak 
and feeble faith : let there not be in your reputation the 
blemish of a bad appearance. You will then wear the two 
robes, and the Bridegroom will rejoice over your soul which 
He has betrothed to Himself; your God will joy over you. 
Are you wondering what my drift is, and do you not yet per 
ceive my meaning ? I will not keep you in suspense any 
longer. I refer to the murmuring and complaining of the 

1 i Thess. v. 22. 2 St. John xii. 26. P. xciii. I. 

4 Vulg. /or/is. Prov. xxxi. 10. 

8(5 On Consideration 

Churches. They cry aloud that they are being mutilated and 
dismembered. There are none, or very few, which are not 
either already smarting under the scourge, or dreading its 
approach. Do you ask how that is ? Abbots are exempted 
from their bishops, bishops from archbishops, archbishops 
from patriarchs or primates. Does this look well ? I should 
be surprised if any justification could be found for such doings. 
The constant practice shows that you have authority, but 
possibly not so keen a sense of justice. You do this because 
you have the power, but whether you have the right is open 
to question. You are where you are that you may uphold the 
gradations of honour and dignity, secure to every one his 
proper rank, and not grudge any one his due ; as one of your 
predecessors says. Honour to whom honour. 1 

15. The spiritual man of whom we read, who judges all 
things that he may be judged by no man, 2 will preface all his 
work with a sort of threefold consideration. First, he will 
ask whether the thing is lawful ; then, is it becoming ; 
lastly, whether it is also expedient. For although Christian 
philosophy undoubtedly inculcates that nothing is becoming 
unless it be lawful, and nothing expedient unless it be both 
becoming and lawful, it will not of necessity follow that 
everything lawful is either becoming or expedient. Well 
then, let us, if we can, apply these three tests to the business 
before us. Must it not be unbecoming in you to make your 
will the law ? And, because there is no appeal against you, 
to resort to force while you ignore reason ? Are you greater 
than your Lord, who says, 1 came not to do mine own 
will ? 3 Whatever may be argued to the contrary, I main 
tain that it is a mark of baseness, no less than of pride, for a 
man, as though he had not the gift of reason, to make his 

1 Rom. xiii. 7. 2 I Cor. ii. 15. 3 St. John vi. 38. 

Booh ///, Chapter iv 87 

pleasure, and not reason, the rule of action ; to be swayed not 
by judgement but by appetite. Is anything more characteristic 
of the beasts ? And if it is unworthy of a reasonable being 
to live the life of cattle, who can endure that you, the supreme 
ruler, should so outrage nature and insult your rank ? If you 
do so degenerate, which God forbid ! you will share in the 
general reproach, Man being in honour did not understand ; 
he is compared to the foolish beasts of burden, and is made 
like unto them. l How very unworthy it is of you, when you 
possess all, not to be content with all, but you must needs 
make a strange to-do over the minute and inappreciable trifles 
of the universal dominion entrusted to you, as if they were not 
yours already ! And here I should like you to remember 
Nathan s parable of the man who, having a hundred sheep, 
coveted the one belonging to the poor man. 2 Let us also 
recall the deed, or rather the crime, of Ahab, who was master 
of all, and yet was eager to get a single vineyard. 3 God grant 
you may never have it said to you as it was to him, Thou 
hast slain and taken possession. 4 

1 6. And please do not make the profit from these exemp 
tions a pretext for them. There is no profit, unless it be that 
the bishops are thereby more insolent, the monks even more 
dissolute. How is it that they are also poorer ? If you 
examine the balance sheet of these freedmen with anything 
like care, and look into their lives, no matter where, you will 
find the monks shamefully poor, and the bishops disgracefully 
worldly. These are the twin offspring of a baneful freedom. 
What is there to prevent the loose and disorderly rabble from 
boldly sinning, when there is no one to rebuke it ? What 
can we exj>ect but the impudent plundering and pillaging of 

1 Ps. xlix. 12. 2 2 Sam. xii. i. 3 I Kings xxi. 2. 

* i Kings xxi. 19. 

88 On Consideration 

defenceless religion, when there is no one to defend it ? For 
where can men find a refuge ? Shall they go to the bishops 
complaining of injustice ? The bishops must have a merry 
twinkle in their eyes whether they look at the wrongs done, or 
the wrongs suffered. What profit is there in that blood ? 
The only gain, I fear, is that which God threatened in the 
prophet, He shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I 
require at your hand. l For 2 if a man is not only exempted but 
puffed up, and he from whose jurisdiction he is exempted is 
inflamed with anger, how can the exemptor be innocent ? 
I have said too little ; we are smothering the fire ; let me 
speak more plainly. If he who complains is spiritually dead, 
how can he be alive who is the cause of his complaining ? 
Must he not, therefore, be guilty of the death of both these 
persons, and give sentence of death against his own soul as 
well, for it was he who supplied the sword which caused the 
death of both ? This is what I meant when I said, Thou 
hast slain and taken possession/ 3 And further, people who 
hear of these things are scandalized ; they are indignant, dis 
parage, and blaspheme, that is to say, they are wounded even 
unto death. The tree is not good that bears such fruit as 
acts of arrogance, the breaking up of houses, rivalries, the 
squandering of resources, so many scandals, so much hatred ; 
and, what is more lamentable, bitter enmities and perpetuul 
discord between the churches. You see how true are the 
words, All things are lawful to me, but all things are not 
expedient. 4 But suppose the thing is not even lawful. 
Pardon me ; 1 shall not readily allow that the source of so 
much lawlessness can be lawful. 

1 7. Would you, in fact, deem it lawful to cut off the limbs 

1 Ezek. xxxiii. 8. 2 The text here is in great confusion. 

3 See p. 87. i Cor. x. 22. 

Booh III, Chapter re 89 

of churches, turn order into confusion, and remove the land 
marks which your fathers placed ? Well then, it is the work 
of justice to secure to everybody what belongs to him; how 
can it be consistent with justice to rob any man of what 
belongs to him ? You err if you reckon that your apostolic 
power is not only supreme, but the only power ordained of 
God. If this is your opinion, you differ from the apostle. 
He says, " There is no power except from God. * So then, 
if that which follows, He that resists the power withstandeth 
the ordinance of God, a even if this mainly makes for you, it 
does not apply to you exclusively. In short, the same writer 
says, Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. 3 He 
does not say * to the higher power , as if all power belonged 
to one man, but to the higher powers , since it resides in 
many. Your power, therefore, is not the only power from 
the Lord ; there are middle and lower powers. And as 
those whom God hath conjoined are not to be put asunder, 4 
so those whom God hath subjoined are not to be put on 
a footing of equality. If you cut off a finger, attach it to 
your head, and let it hang side by side with your arm, as a 
hand for the upper parts of the body, you create a monstrosity. 
Something like this happens if you place the members in the 
body of Christ otherwise than He Himself arranged them. 
Unless you suppose it was not He, but another, who set 
some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly 
evangelists, then teachers and pastors, for the perfecting of the 
saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the 
body of Christ V And yet it is this body which Paul sets 
before you with his own true apostolic eloquence, most admir 
ably uniting it to the Head, and representing it as k from Him 

1 Rom. xiii. r. 2 Rom. xiii. 2. s Rom. xiii. T. 

St. Matt. xix. 6. 5 I Cor. xii. 28. 

90 On Consideration 

fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint 
supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each 
several part, making the increase of the body unto the building 
up of itself in love V And do not despise the mould on 
which you are to fashion yourself because it is the Church on 
earth ; the pattern is derived from heaven. For not even 
the Son can do anything except what He hath seen the 
Father do, 2 as is obvious from what was said to Him under 
the name of Moses, See thou make everything after the 
pattern which was showed thee on the mount. 3 

1 8. He understood this who said, I saw the holy city, 
New Jerusalem descending from heaven, prepared by God. 4 
I suppose a parallel was intended, viz. that as in heaven above 
Seraphim and Cherubim, and all other celestial beings, even 
to angels and archangels, are of varying rank under one Head, 
viz. God ; so in the Church on earth, also, primates or patri 
archs, archbishops, bishops, presbyters, or abbots, and all 
others, are similarly ranked under one supreme pontiff. That 
which has God for its author, and originates in heaven, must 
not be lightly esteemed. But if a bishop say I do not desire 
to be under an archbishop , or an abbot I do not care to 
obey a bishop , this is not from heaven. Unless, perhaps, 
you have heard one of the angels crying I do not desire to 
be under the archangels , or one of the lower angelic orders 
declare that he could not bear to be subject to any one but 
God. What ! you say, do you forbid me to exercise my 
stewardship ? What I wish to prevent is the squandering of 
the estate. T am not so ignorant as not to know that you 
have been made stewards ; but if so, it is for building up, not 
for casting down. 5 In a word, it is required among stewards 

1 Eph. iv. 16. 2 St. John v. 19. 3 Exod. xxv. 40. 

4 Apoc. xxi. 2. 5 2 Cor. xiii. 10. 

Booh III, Chapter iv 9 i 

that a man be found faithful. 1 When necessity requires you 
may be excused for exercising your dispensing power; if 
there is some manifest advantage, such exercise may deserve 
commendation. k Advantage , I say, of the community, not 
your own. For when no good is done either to the commu 
nity or to yourself, we certainly have not a faithful steward 
ship, but a cruel waste. Still, as everybody knows, there are 
some monasteries in different dioceses, which from their very 
foundation have been more closely associated with the apos 
tolic see in accordance with the will of the founders. But 
the free gift of devotion is one thing ; the efforts of ambition 
intolerant of subjection are quite another. So much for this. 


The Sovereign Pontiff should uphold the Apostolic 
decrees and ancient ordinances throughout the 

19. It remains for your consideration to survey the condi 
tion of the Church generally, and to ascertain whether the 
people are subject to the clerks, 2 the clerks to the priests, 3 the 
prints to God, in all due humility ; if in monasteries and 
places of religion order is preserved, and discipline is watchful ; 
if ecclesiastical censures are enforced against corrupt practice 
and perverse doctrine ; if the vineyards show the goodly 

1 i Cor. iv. a. 

2 See Bingham, Ant. of the Christian Church, vol. i. p. 47. Inferior 
orders, below presbyters and deacons. 

:! The fncerdotinm in tecundo et tertio online, i. e. presbyters and 

92 On Consideration 

bloom of priestly integrity and holiness ; if the blossoms bear 
fruit in the obedience of faithful peoples ; if, now at length, 
your own apostolic commands and ordinances are observed 
with fitting care, lest any portion of your Master s field be found 
uncultivated through neglect, or filched through fraud. You 
may be sure that such defects may be found. To omit count 
less other details, I could easily point to parts of the vineyards 
on all sides which are lying waste ; I could show you that 
even of those which your own right hand has planted some 
are rooted up. At Rheims was it not your own mouth that 
published the canons submitted to the Council ? * Who 
observes them ? Who has observed them ? You are de 
ceived if you think they are observed. If you do not think 
so, you have yourself erred, either in decreeing what was not 
to be observed, or pretending that it is observed. We 
enjoin , you said, that bishops as well as clergy see that they 
do not, either by superfluous apparel, or an unbecoming medley 
of colours, or by divided garments, or by the tonsure, offend 
the eye of the beholders, to whom they ought to be a pattern 
and example ; but rather by their own conduct so condemn 
these things, and by their mode of life evidence their love of 
innocence, as the dignity of the clerical order requires. But 
if after warning from their own bishops any do not submit 
within forty days, let them by authority of the same be de 
prived of their ecclesiastical benefices. If, however, the 
bishops neglect to enforce the aforesaid penalty, inasmuch as 
the faults of inferiors are to be attributed to none more than 
to indolent and negligent rulers, let them abstain from their 
pontifical office until such time as they do inflict the punish 
ment appointed by us on the clergy subject to them. With 
this we have thought well to couple the order that no one be 

1 See introduction to this book. 

Book III, Chapter v 93 

ordained archdeacon or dean, unless he be deacon and priest. 
Morever, if archdeacons, deans, and priors, below the afore 
named orders, contemptuously refuse to be ordained, let them 
be deprived of the honour they have taken upon themselves. 
We further forbid the bestowal of the aforesaid honours on 
youths not even as yet admitted to holy orders, but distin 
guished for their capacity and meritorious lives. 

20. These are your words; you authorized them. What 
effect was given to them ? To this day youths, although not 
admitted to holy orders, are promoted in the Church. As 
regards the first canon, luxurious dress was forbidden, but it 
is not checked ; the punishment was declared, but it has by 
no means followed the offence. It is now the fourth year 
since we heard the command given, and we have not as yet 
lamented a single cleric deprived of his benefice, or a single 
bishop suspended from his office. But the sequel is intensely 
sad. What is the sequel ? Impunity, the child of careless 
ness, the mother of insolence, the root of impudence, the 
nurse of transgressions. And blessed will you be if you make 
it your earnest care to guard against carelessness, the first 
parent of all evils. But you will do your best in this respect. 
Now lift up your eyes and see if the spotted fur does not dis 
grace the clergy just as much as ever ; if the immoderate 
division in the robe does not as much as ever almost show 
their nakedness. Does God care what a man wears ? 
Does He not rather regard his character ? * This is how 
men talk. But the clothing I refer to indicates deformity of 
mind and morals. How is it that the clergy wish to be one 
thing and seem another ? The truth is that they are not so 
innocent and upright as they ought to be. Forsooth, in dress 
they are soldiers, in profession clergy, in conduct neither. 
For they neither light like soldiers, nor preach the Gospel 

94 On Consideration 

like clergymen. 1 To which order do they belong ? In their 
eagerness to belong to both, they forsake both, confound 
both. Every one , says the Apostle, shall rise in his own 
order. 2 What is their order ? Having sinned without 
order, shall they perish without order ? I rather think that 
if the all-wise God is truly believed to leave nothing unordered, 
from the height above to the depth beneath, there is reason to 
fear their order can be only where there is no order , but 
where everlasting horror dwells. O unhappy bride entrusted 
to the care of bridesmen such as these, who are not afraid to 
appropriate to themselves what was intended for her adorning ! 
They are surely not the friends of the bridegroom, but his 
rivals. And now I have said enough about the things beneath 
you ; not enough, it is true, for the adequate treatment of the 
subject, which is far too great for me to handle, but enough 
for my purpose. We must now view the things around you ; 
but the fourth book will open the door and admit us to them. 

1 St. Bernard (Cotter Morison, p. 1 29) elsewhere girds at the cross 
between the priest and the soldier. Not only have we lost the spirit of the 
old monasteries, but even the outward appearance. For this habit of ours, 
which of old was the sign of humility, by the monks of our day is turned 
into a source of pride. We can hardly find in a whole province where 
withal we condescend to be clothed. The monk and the knight cut 
their garments, the one his cowl, the other his cloak, from the same piece. 
As early as the beginning of the sixth century there are canons forbidding 
the clergy to wear a military cloak, or bear arms. 

3 i Cor. xv. 23. 


[ In the fourth book St. Bernard proposes for the Pope s 
consideration what is around him, viz. (a) the Clergy, (b] the 
people of Rome, (c) the Cardinals, and other officers of the 
Court, and concludes by drawing a remarkable portrait of an 
ideal Head of the Church. 

The People of Rome. i The root of mischief was deep and 
perennial ; and a momentary calm was preceded and followed 
by such tempests as had almost sunk the bark of St. Peter. 
Rome continually presented the aspect of war and discord ; 
the churches and palaces were fortified and assaulted by the 
factions and families ; and, after giving peace to Europe, 
Calixtus the Second alone had resolution and power to pro 
hibit the use of private arms in the metropolis/ Gibbon 
(Decline and Fall, ch. Ixix. A.D. 1118-1224), who, after 
quoting St. Bernard, adds, Surely this dark portrait is not 
coloured by the pencil of Christian charity ; yet the features, 
however harsh and ugly, express a lively resemblance of the 
Romans of the twelfth century. 

Legates. * In addition to their vicars, the popes appointed 
legates to exercise some of their functions, such as that of 
holding councils for the investigation of cases which had been 
referred to Rome, or in which the popes took it on themselves 
to interfere. These legates were sometimes ecclesiastics 
sent from Italy; but as foreign ecclesiastics were regarded 
with suspicion by princes, it was more usual to give the 
legatine commission to some bishop of the country in which 
the inquiry was to take place. Even kings were sometimes 
invested with the authority of papal legates/ Gregory VII 
(circ. A.D. 1070) applied to his legates the text, he that 
heareth you, heareth me. Wherever they apjvared they were 
the highest ecclesiastical authorities ; and bishops trembled 
before the deacons and subdeacons who were imested with 

9 6 On Consideration 

the pope s commission to control, to judge, and to depose 
them. Up to the time of Anselm (circ. A. D. 1 100) they had 
come but seldom to England and only on special business. 
When a legate of All England was appointed it was stoutly 
contended that no one but the Archbishop of Canterbury 
could be recognized as a representative of the pope. Robert 
son, Ch. Hist., &c. ; Cotter Morison, Saint Bernard, p. 423. 
Election of Pope. The great innovation in the method of 
election dates from A. D. 1059, when Nicolas II, in a 
Council held at Rome, published a decree that the cardinal 
bishops should first treat of the election, that they should then 
call in the cardinals of inferior rank, and that afterwards the 
rest of the clergy and people should approve the choice. 
The choice of pope was thus substantially vested in the car 
dinals. The election was to be made saving the due honour 
and reverence of our beloved son Henry, who at present is 
accounted king, and hereafter will, it is hoped, if God permit, 
be emperor, as we have already granted to him ; and of his 
successors who shall personally have obtained this privilege from 
the apostolic see. There was no emperor at the time, and 
* our beloved son Henry was a child under female guardian 
ship. Nicolas, it will be seen, so short a time before 
St. Bernard s day, assumed the right to dispose of temporal 
sovereignties. His successor did so also when he sanctioned 
William the Conqueror s invasion of England. See Robertson, 
Book III, &c.] 


The things around the Pope 

i. If I knew better, most loving Eugenius, how you 
received what I have already sent, I should proceed to the 
rest of my work with corresponding confidence or caution ; 
or I might, of course, stop altogether. But since the distance 
which separates us renders such knowledge impossible, you 

Book //^ Chapter i 97 

must not be surprised if, as I approach (with some misgiving, 
I confess) the middle of my subject, my discourse flows less 
freely in its divided channel. Having fully treated the first 
part of consideration in the former books, I now take in hand 
the task of adding my views on the things around you. They, 
too, are really under you, but the nearer they are the greater 
is their importunity. For being before your very eyes they 
allow no pretence of carelessness or forgetful ness. They 
more furiously drive you ; they more tumultuously mob you ; 
there is reason to fear they may carry you away altogether. 
I do not doubt that you have learnt from your own experience 
what watchful and earnest consideration is required when 
things are so. Moreover, if careful and timely consideration 
does not step in, your vexation will be boundless, and your 
anxiety unceasing. You will not have a moment to spare, 
nor a free place in your heart ; the labour will be greater, the 
profit less. 1 have in mind those things which come upon 
you daily from the city, from the court, from your own 
church. These things, I say, are around you ; your clergy 
and your people, whose own bishop you are, and to whom you 
therefore owe a debt of special care. So are they, too, who 
day by day assist you, the elders of the people, the judges of 
the world ; they, too, who belong to your household and sit at 
your table, your chaplains, gentlemen of the bedchamber, and 
inferior clergy appointed in their different offices to do you 
service. These are your more intimate acquaintance ; they 
more frequently knock, disturb, and vex you. 1 These arc 
they who are not afraid to wake the beloved before she wishes 
to be awaked. 

1 Cant. v. 2, 3. 


9 8 On Consideration 


The clergy and people of Rome. The care and 
watchfulness of shepherds in olden time 

2. Now, in the first place, your clergy, who set the pattern 
for the clergy throughout the Church, ought to be in the best 
of order. Secondly, whatever is amiss in your presence re 
flects the more discredit upon you. It concerns the glory of 
your Holiness that the men you have before your eyes be so 
ordered, so fashioned, that they may be the mirror and the 
very pink of a virtuous and well-regulated life. Above all 
other men they should be found ready for their duties, fit for 
the sacraments, eager to instruct the people, circumspect in 
keeping themselves free from all pollution. What am I to 
say about the people ? It is the people of Rome. I could 
not more briefly, or more definitely, describe them. Yet 
I ought to let you know what I think of your parishioners. 
Is there anything in history more notorious than the wanton 
ness and pride of the Romans ? A race unaccustomed to 
peace, familiar with tumult ; a race to this very day fierce and 
intractable ; who will never submit except when they have no 
power to resist. Here is the mischief; this is the care that 
lies heavy upon you, and you must not disguise the fact. You 
perhaps smile as you read this, for you are convinced that 
they will never be cured. Do not despair : what is required 
of you is the care, not the cure. You have surely heard the 
words, * Take care of him ; our Lord did not say cure or 
4 heal him. It was a true saying, The doctor cannot always 
cure his patient/ But set a better ideal before you in your 
work. Paul says, * I laboured more than they all/ * He 
1 i Cor. xv. 10. 

Booh IV, Chapter ii 99 

does not say, < I did more good than all, or I bore more fruit 
than all/ for he most scrupulously avoided any word of pride. 
The man whom God taught that every one shall receive 
according to his work, not according to the results of the 
work, 1 knew better than that. Hence it was that he thought 
he ought to glory more in labours than in successes, as you 
have him saying elsewhere, In labours more abundant. a 
So, pray, do your own work ; for God will take good care 
of His without your solicitude and anxiety. Plant, water, 
bestow care : you have done your part. God, when He so 
wills, will certainly give the increase; it will not be you. If 
perchance He does not will to give it, you lose nothing, for 
the scripture says, God will render to the righteous the 
reward of their labours. 3 That labour is safe which no 
failure can render void. And I would say this without 
prejudice to the divine power and goodness. I know the 
heart of this people is hardened ; but God is able of these 
stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Who knows if 
He will return and pardon, convert and heal them ? But I do 
not propose to dictate to God what He ought to do ; would 
that I could persuade you to do what you ought, and as you 

3. I know I am treading on dangerous ground, and have to 
deal with some very nice points. How shall I approach the 
perilous task of saying what I think ? I see clearly what is 
hanging over my head. The cry of innovation will be 
raised ; for no one can deny the justice of my complaint. 
But I would not allow even the plea of novelty. For I am 
quite sure that what I urge was once the custom, and, like all 
other customs, it might fall into disuse ; but nothing can dis 
turb the fact that the custom once prevailed. Can any one 

1 i Cor. iii. 8. 2 a Cor. xi. 23. 3 Wisd. of Sol. x. 17. 

G 2 

ioo On Consideration 

with truth deny that to be a custom which was not only done 
once upon a time, but beyond a doubt was the practice for 
a considerable time ? I will tell you what I refer to, though 
it will do no good. Why ? Because it will not please the 
rulers l of the Church, who have more regard for the splendour 
of their office than for the claims of truth. Before your day 
there were men who would devote themselves entirely to 
feeding the sheep ; they gloried in the shepherd s work and 
name ; they counted nothing humiliating except what they 
thought hindered the welfare of the sheep, for they did not 
seek their own interests, but spent upon the sheep. They 
spent care, they spent their substance, they spent even them 
selves. Wherefore one of them says, I will be spent out for 
your souls. 2 It is as though they said, We came not to be 
ministered unto, but to minister ; 3 and so, as often as it 
became them, they made the Gospel free of cost. The only 
gain they sought from those in their keeping, the only pomp, 
the only pleasure, was, if possible, to make them a perfect 
people for the Lord. That was their constant concern, even 
in much sorrow of heart, and pain of body, in labour and care, 
in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness. 

4. Let me now ask what has become of this practice? 
A very different one has crept in : men s ambitions have 
undergone a great change, and I would that the change were not 
for the worse ! We have still among us, I admit, anxious 
care, wholesome emulation, and a sense of responsibility. 
These have been passed on to you without diminution. In 
support of what I say, there is the fact that you do not spare 
your substance any more than your predecessors did. But it 
is the change in the investment that makes the difference. It 

1 Salrapis. But see Judges iii. 3 ; 2 Chron. ix. 14, Vulg. 
2 . a Cor. xii. 15. 3 St. Matt. xx. 28. 

Book // , Chapter ii 101 

is a great abuse. Few look to the mouth of the lawgiver : 
all have regard to his hands. And not without good reason. 
The hands do all the Pope s business. Show me a man in 
the whole city of Rome who welcomed you as Pope without 
having his price, or hoping to get it. Even when they profess 
to be your very humble servants, they aim at being your 
masters. They pledge their fidelity only that they may more 
conveniently injure the confiding. Hence it is that there can 
be no deliberation from which they think they ought to be 
excluded; there will be no secret into which they do not 
worm their way. If the doorkeeper keeps one of them 
waiting a minute or two, I should not like to be in his shoes. 
Now for a few illustrations, so that you may know whether 
I understand this people s ways, and how far. First of all, 
they are wise to do evil, but they know not how to do good. 
Hateful to heaven and earth, they have laid hands on both ; 
they are impious towards God, heedless in holy things ; 
turbulent among themselves, jealous of their neighbours, bar 
barous to foreigners, they love no man and are loved of none ; 
and when they aim at being feared by all, all must fear. 
These are they who cannot bear to be beneath, though they 
are not qualified to be at the head, faithless to superiors, 
insufferable to inferiors. They have no modesty in asking, 
and no shame in refusing. They worry you to get what they 
want ; they cannot rest till they get it ; they have no gratitude 
once they have got it. They have taught their tongue to 
speak great things, when there is but little doing. They are 
lavish promisors, niggardly performers ; the smoothest of 
flatterers, and the worst of backbiters ; artless dissemblers, 
and malignant traitors. I allow myself to digress thus far 
because I think you ought to be fully and precisely admonished 
of these things which arc around you. 


On Consideration 

5. Let us now return to our subject. How is it that 
churches are robbed to provide the purchase-money of the 
flatterers who cry Well done ! Well done ! ? The susten 
ance of the poor is scattered broadcast in the streets of the 
rich. The money glitters in the mud ; men rush from all 
sides to get it ; the poor man does not pick it up, but the 
stronger, or, it may be, the swiftest runner. Still, I must in 
fairness say this custom, or rather this deadly disease, did not 
begin with you ; would that it might end with you. But let 
us proceed. Amid these surroundings you, the shepherd, 
parade in cloth of gold, with every luxury at your command. 
The sheep, what do they receive ? If I might speak the 
truth, these are the pastures of demons rather than of sheep. 
Did Peter, forsooth, do such things, or Paul thus sport him 
self ? You see that the one object of the Church s zeal is 
the preservation of your dignity. Honour claims all, holiness 
nothing, or but little. If for good reason you attempt to 
waive ceremony, and show a little friendliness, No, say 
they : it is not becoming : * it does not suit the time : it 
is not accordant with your rank : bear in mind the impor 
tant part you play. The last thing mentioned is the will of 
God ; there is no hesitation because men s salvation is at 
stake ; let us call nothing salutary but what is high and 
mighty ; and whatever gives the scent of glory, let that be 
righteousness. Thus all humility is reckoned a disgrace 
among the inmates of the palace, so that you may more easily 
find a man who really is humble than you will one who is 
willing to appear so. The fear of the Lord is counted sim 
plicity, not to say folly. They revile a prudent man, who is 
on good terms with his own conscience, as a hypocrite. 
A lover of quiet, moreover, who sometimes finds leisure to 
think about himself, they call a useless drone. 

Book IV, Chapter Hi 103 


The necessity of curtailing extravagance in 
dress, &c. 

6. How is it then with you ? Are you not yet awake, and 
on your guard against those who have surrounded you with 
the snares of death ? Pray bear with me yet a little while. 
Nay, rather, pardon me when I say these things with less 
temerity than timidity. 1 am jealous over you with a godly 
jealousy, and I would it were as profitable as it is strong. 
I know where you dwell ; unbelievers and subverters are with 
you. They are wolves, not sheep ; but you are the shepherd 
of these as well as of the rest. The consideration will be 
profitable if it leads you to the discovery of some means of 
converting them lest they subvert you. They were sheep and 
turned into wolves ; why despair of their turning back again 
into sheep ? Here, here, I do not spare you, so that God 
may spare you. At least cither deny that you are shepherd 
over this people, or showjthat you are. You will not deny it, 
lest he, whose chair you fill, deny that you are his heir. 
I mean, of course, Peter, who never, so far as can be ascer 
tained, i araded himself decked with gems, or robed in silks ; 
he was not covered with gold, he did not ride on a white 
steed, he was not surrounded by soldiers, nor fenced off from 
his flock by noisy attendants. He thought that without all 
this he could amply fulfil the salutary command, If you love 
me, feed my sheep. * In all this painted pomp you are not 
Peter s successor, but Constantinc s. What I insist on is 
that while you may tolerate such pomp and glory to suit the 

1 St. John xxi. 15. 

io4 0> 1 Consideration 

time, you must not claim it as a debt due to you. I rather 
urge you to consider those things which are a debt due from 
you. If on state occasions you are robed in purple and 
decked with gold, I am sure this does not mean that you, the 
shepherd s heir, shrink from the shepherd s toil, or the 
shepherd s care ; it does not imply that you are ashamed of 
the Gospel. Albeit, if you willingly preach the Gospel, you, 
too, have a glorious place among the apostles. To preach 
the Gospel is to feed the sheep. Do the work of an evan 
gelist, and you have done the work of a shepherd. 

7. You are advising me , you say, to feed dragons and 
scorpions, not sheep. For that very reason, I reply, set 
about them ; but with the word, not with the sword. Why 
should you again try to use the sword, which you were once 
for all bidden to put into its sheath ? Yet if any one should 
deny that you have the sword, he does not seem to me to have 
paid sufficient attention to his Lord s words, * Put back thy 
sword into the sheath. 1 To you, then, the sword belongs, 
and it should be unsheathed, it may be with your consent, 
though not by your hand. Otherwise, if it no way belonged 
to you, when the apostles said, Lo, here are two swords, 2 
the Lord would not have replied, * It is enough ; He would 
have said, They are too many. Both swords belong to the 
Church, the spiritual and the material ; the one is to be used 
to defend the Church, but the other must even be banished 
from the Church ; the one is wielded by the priest, the other 
by the soldier, but of course with your consent, and at the 
command of the Emperor. More of this elsewhere. Now, 
however, seize the sword which was entrusted to you that you 
might strike ; wound, for the saving of their souls, if not all, 
if not many even, at all events as many as you can. 
1 St. John xviii. 10, n. z St. Luke xxii. 38. See Appendix, p. 171. 

Booh y/ 7 , Chapter in 

8. You say, I am not better than my fathers. I will not 
ask to which of your fathers this exasperating house ever 
hearkened, which of them it did not mock. Therefore do 
you the more firmly take your stand if haply they may hear, 
and be still ; insist even when they resist. When I speak 
thus, I shall, perhaps, be said to use extravagant language. 
Was it I who said, Be instant in season, out of season ? l 
Call the apostle extravagant if you dare. The prophet is 
commanded to cry aloud and cease not . 2 To whom was 
he to cry unless it was to the wicked and to sinners ? 
* Declare unto my people their wickedness, and to the house 
of Jacob their sins. 3 Carefully observe that the same people 
are called k wicked , and the people of the Lord . Take 
the same view of those with whom you have to do. Although 
they are wicked, although they are unrighteous, see that you 
are not told, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least 
of my brethren, ye did it not to me. 4 I admit that this 
people has ever been of a hard forehead and of a wild heart ; 
but I fail to see how you can know that their heart cannot be 
tamed. What has never been may yet be. You may despair, 
but with God no word shall be impossible." If they are of a 
hard forehead, do you also harden yours. Nothing is so hard 
that it does not yield to that which is harder. The Lord 
said to the prophet, I have made thy forehead harder than 
their foreheads. If you have so dealt with that people that 
you can say, My people, what ought I to have done for thee 
that I have not done/ this is your only sound defence. If 
you have thus done, and yet have done no good, there is still 
something that you can do, something that you can say. Go 

1 a Tim. iv. 2. 2 Iu. Iviii. i. 

3 Isa. Iviii. I. < St. Matt. x\v. 45. 

St. Luke i. 37. Ezk. iii. 8. 

106 On Consideration 

forth from Ur of the Chaldees, 1 and say, I must preach the 
Gospel also to other cities. 2 I think you will not regret 
your exile if you exchange Rome for the world. 


The Pope s colleagues and coadjutors at the 
Later an 

9. Let us come to your colleagues s and coadjutors at the 
Lateran. They are busy on your behalf: they are the inner 
circle of your friends. It follows that if they are good, you 
more than any one else reap the benefit ; if they are bad, you 
more than any one else bear the loss. Do not say you are 
well if you have a pain in your side ; what I mean is, do not 
say you are good if you rely on bad men. To put it differ 
ently, suppose you are good, what fruit (as I remember saying 
in a former book) can your goodness, the goodness of an indi 
vidual man, bear ? What profit does your individual righteous 
ness bring to the churches of God, when the prevalent 

1 Gen. xi. 31 ; xv. 7. 2 St. Luke iv. 43. 

3 St. Bernard s word is collaterales. In the eleventh century the seven 
cardinal bishops had been appointed to the Church of St. John Lateran 
to officiate in turn for the Pope. This basilica, inscribed on each side of 
the entrance, The Mother and Mistress of all Churches of the city and 
world/ stands on the site of the house of Plautius Lateranus, who was put 
to death by Nero (see Tacitus, Annals, xi. 30, 36 ; xiii. II ; xv. 49, 60), 
and is named after him. It was founded by Constantine, who assisted 
with his own hands in digging the foundations. The Chapter of the 
Lateran still takes precedence of that of St. Peter s ; the ceremony of 
taking possession of the Lateran Basilica is one of the first observed on the 
election of a new Pope, whose coronation takes place in it, so that for 1,50x3 
years it has preserved its rank and privileges. St. Bernard, as his manner 
is, appears to be playing with the word. 

Booh 7/ 7 , Chapter iv 107 

views are those of men otherwise disposed ? The truth is 
that not even your own goodness beset by bad men is safer 
than bodily health would be with a serpent hard by. There 
is no escaping from this internal mischief. And on the other 
hand, if you have good men about you, the oftener they assist 
you the better. But whether your colleagues relieve or aggra 
vate your cares, who deserves the credit of it more than 
yourself for either choosing or admitting such men ? I do 
not speak of all ; for there are some whom you have not 
chosen ; they have chosen you. But they have no power 
except what you have either given or allowed them. So we 
come back to the same point. Blame yourself for whatever 
you have to suffer at the hands of him who has no more 
power than what you have given him. As to the rest, with 
these exceptions, the men for the work of this ministry, as 
you perceive, are not to be elected or collected without due 
consideration. It is your duty, like Moses, to summon, 
whencesoever, and admit to their office, old men, not young 
men ; old, I mean, not so much in years as character ; men 
whom you have got to know because they are the elders of 
the people. Surely they who are to judge the world ought to 
be chosen out of the whole world. By no means let a man 
meddle with this business because he begs the office. De 
liberation, not entreaty, must be your guide to action. Some 
things we must yield to importunate request, or grant to de 
serving need. But in so doing we are disposing of our own. 
When, however, it is not lawful for me to do as I wish 
myself, the petitioner has no standing-place, unless, perchance, 
his petition is that his wish may lawfully be mine, and not simply 
that it may be mine. One man intercedes for another; 
another perhaps even a-k* for himself. Suspect the man on 
1 Num. \i. 16. See Appendix, p. 171. 

io8 On Consideration 

whose behalf you are entreated : the man who asks for himself 
is already judged. It does not matter whether a man himself 
asks, or does so through another man. If a cleric who does 
not belong to the court is always about the court, you may be 
sure he is the sort of person who is on the look out for 
favours. A flatterer, and a man who smooths his tongue to 
suit everybody, regard as a petitioner, even if he asks for 
nothing. There is nothing in the scorpion s face to cause 
alarm; the sting is in the tail. 

10. If, as mostly happens, you find your heart softening 
under the blandishments of such men, remember what is 
written, Every man setteth on first the good wine, and when 
men have drunk freely, then that which is worse. l You 
should set the same value on the humility of the man who 
fears and of the man who hopes. The crafty and deceitful 
man has a peculiar knack of putting on the garb of humility 
when he wishes to get something ; he is like those of whom 
the Scripture says, There is a wicked man who hangeth down 
his head sadly, but inwardly he is full of deceit. 2 To see 
how true this is, take a clear and familiar illustration from 
among yourselves. How many of suppliant mien have you 
admitted whom you have afterwards had to put up with in their 
moroseness, insolence, stubbornness, rebellion ? The secret 
mischief, hidden at first, is at last revealed. The stripling 
full of words, aiming at eloquence, when he is void of wisdom, 
you should look upon as every way the enemy of righteousness. 
To guard you against false brethren of this sort your Master 
says, Lay hands hastily on no man. 3 

1 1 . So, then, having shut out the whole race of these 
pestilent men, make it your chief care to bring in those whose 
admission you will not afterwards regret. The frequent revision 

1 St. John. it. 10. 2 Ecclus. xix. 26. 3 I Tim. v. 22. 

Book IV ^ Chapter iv 109 

of your own acts is discreditable, and it is not fitting that your 
judgement should be frequently called in question. Accord 
ingly, diligently examine for yourself, and with the assistance 
of the men who love you, whatever is to be done. Examine 
beforehand, because, once the thing is done, correction is 
too late. The wise man s counsel is, Do nothing without 
counsel, and when thou hast once done thou shalt not repent. l 
And be assured of this, that men fit to be admitted can hardly 
find favour with the court ; if possible, therefore, your choice 
should be of men approved, not to be proved. We, in our 
monasteries, welcome all sorts of men in the hope of doing 
them good, but the court has been accustomed to more readily 
welcome good men than make men good. If, however, as 
we have shown, there have been at the court more good men 
who have failed than bad men who have improved, we must 
certainly look for men whose failure we need not fear, and 
whose progress we need not desire, inasmuch as they are 
already perfect. 

12. So then, in choosing men, select not him that willeth, 
nor him that runneth, but such as hesitate or refuse ; even put 
pressure on these, and compel them to come in. Your spirit 
may rest in such, I think, as are not of a shameless forehead, 
but are modest, and have the fear of God ; who fear nothing 
but God, and hope for nothing but from God ; who obsi-ru 1 
not the hands of those who approach them, but their neces 
sities ; who stand up manfully for the afflicted, and judge in 
equity for the meek upon earth ; men who are of orderly life, 
proved holiness, ready to obey, meek in suffering, submissive 
under discipline, stern in censuring, who hold the Catholic 
faith, are faithful in their stewardship, lovers of peace and 
concord, consistent in maintaining unity ; men upright in 

1 Kcclus. xxxii. 19. 

I 10 

On Consideration 

judgement, prudent in counsel, discreet in commanding, 
careful in planning, strenuous in action, modest in speech ; 
tranquil in adversity, devout in prosperity ; as regards zeal, 
sober-minded ; prone to pity ; in leisure time not idle ; given 
to hospitality, but not too convivial ; careful in business affairs, 
but not anxious ; not covetous of another man s goods, nor 
lavish of their own ; everywhere, and under all circumstances, 
circumspect ; men who when bidden, and necessity requires, 
would not decline to serve as ambassadors for Christ, nor 
unbidden would aspire to the office, nor make their modest 
excuses a plea for obstinate refusal ; who when sent do not 
go after gold, but follow Christ; who do not regard their 
commission as so much gain, nor look for reward, but seek 
fruit ; who in the eyes of kings are as John, to the Egyptians 
are as Moses, to fornicators as Phinees, to idolaters as Elijah, 
to the covetous as Elisha, to liars as Peter, to blasphemers as 
Paul, to traffickers as Christ ; who do not despise the common 
people, but teach them ; do not flatter the rich, but frighten 
them ; do not oppress the poor, but cherish them ; do not 
dread the threats of rulers, but despise them ; do not make 
a great to-do when they enter on their work, nor show signs 
of anger when they leave it; who do not rob the churches, but 
improve them ; do not empty men s pockets, but refresh their 
hearts, and correct their offences ; who take care of their own 
reputation, and do not envy another man his ; who zealously 
cultivate prayerful habits, and in everything rely more on prayer 
than on their own industry and labour ; whose coming bringeth 
peace, whose departure we regret ; whose speech is edifying, 
their life righteous, their presence a pleasure, their memory 
blessed ; who to the individual are amiable not in word, but 
in deed, while they command the respect of the world at large, 
not by their arrogance, but by the discharge of their duties ; 

Book IV, Chapter iv 1 1 1 

who are humble with the humble, and innocent with the in 
nocent ; who sternly rebuke the hardened, restrain the wicked, 
duly recompense the proud ; who are not swift to enrich them 
selves or their relations with the portion of the widow, and 
the patrimony of the Crucified ; who freely give what they have 
freely received, judgement to those who suffer wrong, vengeance 
on nations, rebuking peoples ; who, in short, like the seventy 
whom Moses chose, are perceived to have taken of your spirit, 
and by it, whether absent or present, strive to please you, and 
to please God ; who return to you, weary indeed, but not laden 
with gifts; while they even glory, not because they have brought 
with them all the curiosities and treasures of the lands, but 
because they have left behind them peace to kingdoms, the law 
for barbarians, quiet for monasteries, order for the churches, 
discipline for the clergy, a people acceptable to God, zealous 
of good works. 


The Pope should refuse bribes. Martin and 
Ciu itf rid. The arrogance of the Pope s at 

13. I think it worth while to here plunge into the story of 
our dear brother Martin, whose memory is sweet to me. You 
have heard the story, but may not perhaps remember it. He 
was a Cardinal Presbyter, 1 and for some time was Legate 

1 Innocent II gave him this rank in A.D. 1130. His legatio date is 
A.D. 1 132. He did not belong to Clairvaux, and it is not certain that he 
was a Cistercian at all, He was probably one of St. Bernard s intimate 
friends. The origin of Cardinal Presbyters is not clearly ascertained. 
Bellarmiii thought they were so called from being fixed in some principal 


On Consideration 

in Dacia, but returned so poor that with his money almost 
gone, and the horses nearly worn out, he could scarcely reach 
Florence. There the bishop of the place gave him a horse, 
on which he rode as far as Pisa, where we happened to be at 
the time. The next day, I think it was, the bishop, who had 
a lawsuit pending, with the day of hearing rapidly approaching, 
followed Martin, and began to solicit the votes of his friends. 
One by one their support had been solicited, and then came 
Martin s turn. The bishop relied more upon him, because he 
could not be unmindful of the recent act of kindness. Martin 
thus replied : You have deceived me. I did not know that 
this business was so close. Take your horse : there it is in 
the stable. And that very hour he gave it up to him. What 
say you to that, my dear Eugenius ? To think of a legate 
returning from a land of gold without gold ! Does it not 
sound like news from another world ? To think of his passing 
through a land of silver, and not know silver ! Above all, to 
have at once rejected a gift which might not have been free 
from suspicion ! 

14. But oh ! how glad I am here to have an opportunity of 
reviving the memory of a man who bears a name of sweetest 
fragrance. I mean Gaufrid, Bishop of Carnotes, who for many 
years, at his own expense, vigorously conducted an embassy 

churches, where baptism might be administered, which were therefore 
called Ecclesiae vel Titnli Carditiales\ Stillingfleet was of opinion that 
they were the chief Presbyters in large and populous cities . . . chosen out 
from the rest, to be as the Bishop s Council , and were therefore called 
Cardinales Presbyteri. See Bingham, Antiq. I, p. 276. As the name of 
"pope" or " papa" was originally common to all bishops, so the chief 
presbyters and deacons of any church to which a cure of souls was attached 
were apt to have the term "Cardinal " applied to them by way of distinc 
tion long before it was applied to the presbyters and deacons of the parish 
churches of Rome in particular (Diet. Christ, Antiq., s. v. Cardinal ). 
There were twenty-eight chief parish churches in the city. 

Book // , Chapter ; 113 

in Aquitania. What I speak of, I saw myself. I was with 
him in that country when a certain priest presented him with 
a fish generally called a sturgeon. The legate inquired how 
much it would fetch. I cannot , said he, * accept it unless 
you receive the value ; and he paid the would-be donor, 
reluctant and blushing to take the money, five gold pieces. 
On another occasion, when we were in a certain town, a lady 
of the place devoutly offered him, together with a towel, two 
or three dessert-dishes, of beautiful workmanship, but made of 
wood. The man of tender conscience gazed at them for some 
time, and praised them, but he would not accept them. Was 
he likely ever to receive silver dishes after refusing wooden 
ones ? Nobody could say to the legate, 4 We have made 
Abraham rich. l But he, like Samuel, was thus speaking 
freely to all : * Witness against me before the Lord, and 
before his anointed : whose ox have I taken ? or whose 
ass have I taken ? whom have I defrauded ? whom have 
I oppressed ? or of whose hand have I taken a bribe ? and 
I will this day despise it, and I will restore it to you. a 
Oh ! that there were given to us plenty of men such as these 
we have glanced at. You would be the happiest man in 
the world, and the age the most delightful. Would not the 
blessedness of those times seem to you only next to the joys 
of eternity, when, wherever you turned, you saw yourself 
surrounded on all sides with so glorious a band of the blessed ? 
15. If I know you, you are perplexed; you sigh deeply 
and say to yourself, * Do you suppose that is ever likely 
to come to pass ? Your thoughts run thus Our present 
position is plain enough. How far is what you tell me 
possible ? May I live and have the good fortune of seeing 
it accomplished ! Oh ! that I might be spared to behold 
1 Gen. xiv. 23. 2 1 Sam. xii. 3. 


ii4 Oft Consideration 

the Church of God supported by such pillars ! Oh ! if I 
might see my Lord s spouse in the keeping of such fidelity, 
entrusted to such purity ! How blessed would be my lot ! 
how safe ! if I might behold about me men of that class both 
guarding and bearing witness to my life, to whom I might 
safely impart my secrets, and communicate my plans ; to whom 
I might pour out my heart as to a second self; who, if I wished 
to turn aside, would not allow me, would check me in my 
headlong course : would wake me out of my slumber ; whose 
respectful freedom would check my pride and correct my 
error ; whose constancy and courage would steady me when 
wavering, cheer me when desponding ; whose faith and holi 
ness would urge me on to whatsoever things are holy, what 
soever things are honourable, whatsoever things are modest, 
whatsoever things are lovely and of good report. Now, my 
dear Eugenius, look once more at the present condition of 
the Court or Church, and the pursuits of the prelates, 
particularly of those who are about your person. 

1 6. So far, so good. But I have only gently touched the 
wall, I have not dug into it. 1 You may dig and see, like 
the son of the prophet. I must not go farther. One obvious 
remark I will make. Your attendants ridiculously endeavour 
to take precedence of their fellow presbyters. This is con 
trary to reason, to antiquity, and to the general consent of 
authority. And if trickery works, as is commonly the case, 
its own downfall, surely better this than that the highest 
order be despised. However that may be, their chief plea 
in defence of their ambitious efforts is very absurd. * We , 
say they, are those who at every function are more closely 
associated with our master, the Holy Father ; when he sits, 
we sit nearest to him ; when he goes in procession, we 
1 Ezek. viii. 8. 

Book IV, Chapter v 1 1 y 

follow next to him. All this is not a privilege accorded to 
rank, but a debt due from assiduous service ; through the very 
formalities of service the work gives meaning to the name of 
deacon . In short, while the presbyters in ordered session 
surround the throne, ye deacons stand at the foot. Ye stand 
near that your master may have you in greater readiness. In 
the Gospels we read that * there arose a strife among the 
disciples as to which of them might seem to be the greatest V 
You would be happy, Eugenius, if the rest of the things 
around you could be controlled after the same pattern.* 


// is not becoming in the Pope to be absorbed in 
the management of his household to the neglect 
of weightier matters. He should have a 

1 7. We are now tired of the Court ; let us leave the palace ; 
they are waiting for us at home. The inmates are not only 
around you, but in a way they are inside you. It is not 
superfluous to consider how you propose to order your house 
hold, to provide for those who are in your lap and in your 
bosom. I say that the consideration is not only not superfluous, 
but that it is necessary. Listen to Paul s words, If a man 
knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care 
of the church of God ? 3 And again, If any man provideth 
not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath 
denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever. * When 

1 St. Luke xxii. 24. 

2 That is, as our Lord controlled His disciples. 

3 I Tim. iii. 5. * I Tim. v. 8, 

II 2 

i itf On Consideration 

I say this, I am not admonishing you, occupied as you are 
with matters of the highest importance, to devote yourself 
to the lowest ; in a way, to grow less, and spend on trifles 
what you owe to weighty affairs. Why entangle yourself 
in those things from which God has rescued you ? All 
these things , He says, shall be added unto you. * Still, 
you ought to do these things, and not leave the others undone. 
But while you personally attend to the great things, you should 
also personally provide representatives to see to your little 
things. For if a single servant cannot at the same time look 
after the cattle, and take charge of the tables, how can you 
without assistance attend both to your own house and to the 
house of the Lord ? Of this latter we read, O Israel, how 
great is the house of the Lord ! 2 Your mind, intent on 
matters of so great and so varied importance, ought, in fact, 
to be relieved of all anxiety for more trifling and baser things. 
It should be free from all prepossessing and engrossing occu 
pations. It should be of such nobility that no unworthy 
affection can drag it down. It should be so straightforward 
that no evil purpose can turn it aside. It should be cautious 
without harbouring stealthy suspicion. It should be watchful 
lest it be distracted by impertinent and inquisitive thoughts. 
It should be so rooted and grounded that it be not shaken by 
any sudden blast. 3 It should be invincible, so that it sink not 
under even lasting tribulation. It should be so large that it 
can find ample room for any temporal loss. 

1 8. Be quite sure that you must be stripped of these 
blessings, and smitten with these curses, if you divide your 

1 St. Matt. vi. 33. 2 Baruch iii. 24. 

The mind I sway by, and the heart I bear, 
Shall never sagg with doubt, nor shake with fear. 

Macbeth, v. iii. 9-10. 

Book IV, Chapter vi 1 1 7 

attention and wish to share yourself between the things of God 
and your own trivial affairs. You must get some one for the 
work, some one to do the grinding for you. For you, I say, 
not with you. There are some things you will do yourself, 
some with the assistance of other men, and some entirely 
through the agency of others. Who is a wise man, and he 
will understand these things ? You must not let your con 
sideration go to sleep over them. Now, in my opinion, the 
details of your household management belong to the class last 
mentioned. As I have intimated, you will do them by means 
of someone else. But your representative, if he be not faithful, 
will cheat ; if he be not prudent, men will cheat him. So then, 
you must look out for a man both faithful and prudent to set 
over your household. 1 Still, he will be useless if a third 
quality be lacking. Do you ask what this is ? It is authority. 
For what is the good of his wishing to manage, and knowing 
how, as necessity arises, if he cannot act according to his 
wishes and his knowledge ? You must therefore give him a 
free hand. If you think this is unreasonable, bear in mind 
that he is a faithful servant, who, nevertheless, desires to 
follow reason ; and he is a prudent servant, who, never- 
tliele^s, knows how to follow reason. But a faithful and 
sagacious will can only avail when it is so adequately sup 
ported that it can act with perfect ease and freedom, and 
command the unhesitating obedience of all. All the rest 
must therefore be under him. Let him brook no opposition. 
Let there be no one to say, * Why have you done so ? Let him 
have power to shut out and let in whom he chooses, to change 
the servants, to transfer the service to whom he likes and 
when he likes. Let all so fear him that all may benefit by 
him. Let him be before all that he may be- a boon to all, 
1 St. Matt. xxiv. 45. 

1 1 8 On Consideration 

and in all respects. Do not lend an ear when he is secretly 
disparaged by whisperers and backbiters ; rather rebuke such 
slanderers. And I would like you to make a general rule of 
regarding with suspicion any man who is afraid to say openly 
what he has told you privately. But if in your judgement it 
ought to be told face to face, and he refuse, pronounce him an 
informer, not an accuser. 

19. So then let one person assign their several duties to all 
the rest, and let the rest be responsible to the one person. 
You should trust him, and so gain time for yourself and the 
Church of God. If the choice lies between a trustworthy 
servant and a prudent one, it is better to appoint the former. 
Of the two this is certainly the safer course. However, if 
you cannot find a suitable person, even if a man be not so 
faithful as he ought, I advise you to put up with it rather 
than lose your way in this labyrinth of domestic care. Re 
member that Judas was our Lord s steward. 1 What is more 
disgraceful for a bishop than that he should spend his energy 
on his furniture, and his bit of property ? He should not be 
always prying into things, asking about every thing, eaten up 
with suspicion, and disturbed at every little loss or symptom 
of neglect. I say this to shame some of that sort, who never 
let a day pass without taking an inventory of all their belong 
ings, reckoning up every item, and demanding an account of 
mites and farthings. Not so the Egyptian who gave up all 
to Joseph, and knew not what he had in his house. 2 The 
Christian should blush who cannot trust a Christian with his pro 
perty. He was not a believer, but he had faith in his servant, 
and set him over all his goods and the servant was a foreigner. 

20. Herein is a marvellous thing. The bishops can com 
mand men enough and to spare for the trust of souls, and yet 

1 St. John xii. 6. 2 Gen. xxxix. 6. 

Book IV, Chapter vi 119 

cannot find a single person in whose hands they may place 
their small estates. They must be excellent judges of the 
relative values of things to take such great care of the smallest 
matters, and so little of the greatest. But, as we are given to 
clearly understand, we do more patiently suffer Christ s loss 
than our own. We meet our daily expenditure with a daily 
scrutiny, and know nothing of the constant damage which the 
Lord s flock sustains. There is a daily discussion with our 
servants about the price of food and the number of loaves : 
a conference with our presbyters to consider the sins of our 
people is a very rare occurrence. The ass falls, and there is 
some one to lift him up : the soul perishes, and no one takes 
account thereof. And no wonder, when we do not perceive 
our own unceasing defects ! Are we not angry, do we not 
burn with indignation, are we not tormented with anxiety, 
whenever we cast up the figures ? How much more patiently 
should we bear material than mental loss ! Wherefore , says 
the Apostle, do ye not rather suffer to be defrauded ? l 
You who teach others, pray teach yourself, if you have not 
already done so, to set a higher price upon yourself than upon 
your belongings. Those transitory things which cannot abide 
with you, make them pass away from you, not through you. 
The flowing stream hollows out a channel for itself; similarly 
temporal things coursing through the mind eat away the con 
science. If the torrent can sweep across the fields without 
injuring the crops, you may confidently exj ect to handle such 
matters without mental hurt. I counsel you by all means to 
endeavour to divert the onset of these things. Many of them 
should be unknown to you, the greater number be unnoticed, 
some forgotten. 

2 1 . There are, however, some things as to which I would 
1 i Cor. vi. 7. 

i2o On Consideration 

not have you ignorant : I refer to the character and pursuits of 
your various servants. You ought not to be the last to know 
the faults of your household, which, as we are aware, is the ex 
perience of very many. Wherefore, as I have said, let another 
manage the rest, but do you yourself see to the discipline. 
Trust that to nobody. If in your presence there is any ten 
dency to arrogant conversation, or showy dress, stretch out 
your hand against such offences ; be yourself the avenger of 
the wrong done to you. Impunity is the mother of audacity, 
audacity brings forth excess. Holiness becomes the house of 
a bishop, modesty becomes it, good repute becomes it ; the 
guardian of all these is discipline. The priests of the house 
hold are either more highly esteemed than others, or they are 
the common talk. In the look, dress, gait of the priests 
about your person you should allow no trace of immodesty 
or indecency. Let your fellow bishops learn from you not 
to have about them boys with their hair curled, or effeminate 
youths. 1 It is surely unbecoming for a bishop to go hither 
and thither surrounded by fops who wear the turban and use 
the curling iron. And remember the admonition of the wise 
man, They are thy daughters : make not thy face cheerful 
toward them. z 

22. And yet what I am commending to you is not austerity, 
but gravity. The former puts to flight the weaklings ; the 
latter checks the frivolous. If a man be austere, he is odious : 
if he be not grave, he becomes contemptible ; yet in everything 
there is a happy medium. I would not have you act with 

1 Archbishop Anselm (A.D. 1094-5) in the beginning of Lent, when 
the Court was at Hastings, refused to give the customary ashes and benedic 
tion to the young nobles who affected an effeminate style of dress and 
manners wearing long hair which they curled and adorned like women. 

2 Ecclus. vii. 24. 

Book IV ^ Chapter i<i 121 

too great severity, nor with too great laxity. What is more 
pleasing than that moderation which prevents your severity 
making you oppressive, and your familiarity making you con 
temptible ? In the palace be the Holy Father, at home the 
father ot the family. Let your household love you ; if they 
do not, make them fear you. It is always well to so keep the 
door of the lips as not to shut out the grace of affability. The 
hasty tongue must therefore always be bridled, but specially 
at the feast. Your deportment will be most fitting if in action 
you are strict, in look cheerful, in speech serious. Let not 
the chaplains, and those who are associated with you in the 
divine offices, be without honour. It is for you to provide 
yourself with such men as are worthy. Let all pay attention 
to them, as it is to yourself. Let them receive at your hand 
what is necessary for their support. Let them be content 
with the provision you make for them, and do you see that 
they want not. If you catch one of them begging more from 
your visitors, judge him as you would Gchazi ; * and you must 
have the same rule for the doorkeepers, and the other officials. 
But all this is superfluous, for I remember that you long ago 
planned it all. What is more worthy of your apostk shi]> : 
What more wholesome for your conscience, more conducive 
to good report, more profitable by way of example? It is an 
excellent rule to banish greed beyond the reach of scandal, 2 
and not only to be innocent of it. 

1 2 Kings v. 2O. 

8 Isa. xxxiii. 15. The Vulgate has qiii proiiclt . , . ex caiumnia. 
R. V. who despiseth the gain of oppressions, or (Margin" fraud . 

122 On Consideration 

The ideal Pope 

23. I will now bring this book to a close, but in ending 
I should like by way of epilogue to either recapitulate some 
things already said, or add some which I passed over. Before 
all, consider that the holy Roman Church of which God has 
made you head, is the mother of churches, not their mistress ; 
but that you are not sovereign lord of the bishops, but one of 
them, the brother, too, of those who love God, and a partaker 
with them that fear Him. As for the rest, consider that you 
ought to be a model of righteousness, a mirror of holiness, 
a pattern of piety, the asserter of truth, the defender of the 
faith, the teacher of nations, the guide of Christians, the friend 
of the bridegroom, the leader of the bride to her spouse, the 
ordainer of the clergy, the shepherd of the people, the instructor 
of the foolish, the refuge of the oppressed, the advocate of the 
poor, the hope of the wretched, the protector of the father 
less, the judge of the widow, the eye of the blind, the tongue 
of the dumb, the staff of the aged, the avenger of wicked 
ness, the fear of bad men, the glory of the good, a rod for 
the powerful, a hammer for tyrants, the father of kings, the 
mitigater of laws, the dispenser from canons, the salt of the 
earth, the light of the world, the priest of the Most High, 
the vicar of Christ, the Lord s anointed, and lastly the God 
of Pharaoh. Understand what I say : the Lord will give 
thee understanding. When power and wickedness go hand 
in hand, we must claim something for you more than human. 
Let your countenance be upon them that do evil. 1 Let him 
1 Ps. xxxiv. 16. 

Book y/ 7 , Chapter vii 123 

who fears not man, nor dreads the sword, fear the breath of 
your anger. Let him fear your prayer who has despised your 
admonition. Let him think that he who incurs your wrath 
incurs the wrath not of man but of God. He who has not 
heard you, let him quake at the thought that God will hear 
you, and will be against him. We now turn to the discussion 
of what remains, namely, the things above you. I shall hope, 
with God s help, to pay this debt in one book, and so be quit 
of my promise. 


[IN this book St. Bernard considers the things above us (ch. i), 
first discussing the respective provinces of Opinion, Faith, and 
Understanding (ch. ii, iii), then proceeding to the Holy Angels 
(ch. iv, v), the Being of God (ch. vi, vii, viii, xi), the Person of 
Christ (ch. ix, x). In ch. xii we have God the Judge, and 
a conception of Hell in striking accord with much of the exposi 
tion of modern times. The book concludes (ch. xiv) with an 
impressive illustration of the mystical interpretation of Holy 
Scripture (Eph. iii. 18) God regarded as length, breadth, 
height, depth , and our comprehension of Him as such. 

The Schoolmen. The term scholastic originally denoted 
a teacher in the schools founded throughout his empire by 
Charlemagne under the direction of our countryman, Alcuin 
of York. Used as an adjective, the word described the 
subjects taught scholastic history/ scholastic philosophy, 
scholastic theology/ during the thousand years of the Tran 
sition Period, from the sixth to the sixteenth century. 

In a movement so extended there were, of course, many 
developments. Of the schoolmen by whom St. Bernard 
may have been influenced, directly or indirectly, we need only 
mention John Scotus Erigena, John the Irishman (b. between 
A. D. 800 and A. D. 810, d. about A. D. 877); Berengarius 
of Tours (A. D. 999-1088); Lanfranc, his opponent (b. 
A. D. 1005, d. A. D. 1089, Abbot of Bee, and from A. D. 
1070 Abp. of Canterbury); Roscelin, the reputed founder of 
Nominalism (condemned at the Council of Soissons, A. D. 
1092) ; William of Champeaux (b. A. D. 1070, d. A. D. 1121); 
Abelard, pupil of the two preceding (b. A. D. 1079, d. A. D. 
1142); Anselm (b. A. D. 1033, d. A. D. 1109, also Abbot 
of Bee and Abp. of Canterbury) ; and Gilbert of Poitiers, 
whose views were discussed at Rheims (A.D. 1148). 

Whatever may be said of after times when Dialectics 
became a branch of professorial study in the Universities of 
the Middle Ages, it would be doing great injustice to repre 
sent these men as mere triflers, hair-splitters, verbal quibblers, 
syllogistic conjurers, and so forth. They often described 

BOO( r 125- 

wearisome circles, rushed vehemently into culs-dc-sac, wandered 
about a labyrinth, vainly demanding an outlet . Many of their 
folios may be fossils, but we may surely believe that their 
way was foreseen, that they had a Guide, that there was 
a method which all these bewilderments were to help them in 
finding out . There were deep fires burning in their bosoms, 
and both the intellect and the affections were in training for 
the better future. 

Nor would it be right to represent them as in revolt against 
authority. The human reason was awaking after its long 
slumber, and the giant was not easily controlled. The 
revolt was not so much against authority, as against logic. 
John the Irishman rightly felt that Aristotle s Categories 
belonged to the regions of sensible and intelligible things, 
but that when we ascend to the consideration of Him who 
transcends sense and intelligence, logical categories are out of 
place God is neither Genus, Species, nor Accident. There 
was an earnest desire, not to uproot the Faith, but to find an 
intellectual basis for it, not to discard either reason or faith, 
but to reconcile their claims. * Realism , Nominalism, 
Conceptualism, to vast numbers are only names, but to 
those who have eyes to see they stand for the profoundest 
controversy which has ever engaged the thought of man, and 
are expressions of man s determination to get, if possible, to 
the bottom of things, and ascertain if reality anywhere exists, 
or life is but a dream. liven Abelard all grudges between 
him and Bernard were set at rest ; let us, too, think tenderly, 
and speak gently of him ! is entitled to our gratitude and 

1 How holily, how devotedly, in what a Catholic spirit he first made 
confession of his faith, then of his sins ; with what an affection of heart he 
received the food for his journey, the pledge of eternal life, the Body of 
the Redeemer; how faithfully he commended his body and soul to Him ; 
our brothers are witness, and the whole society of that monastery. Thus 
Master Peter (Abelard) finished his days, and lie who was known through 
out the world for an unparalleled master of science, persevering in the 
learning of Him who said " Learn of me for I am meek and lowly of 
heart ", passed, as we have a right to believe, into His presence. Let ten 
from Cluni, where Abelard was staying just before his death, and where 

126 On Consideration 

respect. There were doubtless faults in his intellectual 
temper, he may or may not have been the frst champion 
of free inquiry , but he strove for the emancipation of reason, 
without which magna est veritas et praevalebit will never be 
a maxim of the possible. 

From the time when Boethius (about A.D. 520) wrote his 
treatise on The Unity of God against the Arians, Nestorians, 
and Eutychians, the name into which we are baptized was all 
through the Middle Ages the subject of ceaseless speculation 
and discussion. We may deplore the fact that so sacred 
a theme should be the shuttlecock of logic, but once reason 
began to move, it would infallibly set itself problems, onto- 
logical, psychological, metaphysical, in trying to solve the 
mystery of God the highest and greatest object of thought, 
the answer of both Anselm and Bernard to the question, 
What is God ? And it is not difficult to see the working 
of the principle of compensation : wisdom is justified of her 
children. If theology received from logic a portion of its 
dryness and formality J , it is no less true that logic received 
from theology its personality and vehemence . Some power 
ful stimulus to thought was needed in the days of barbaric 
indifference. What likely to be so potent as the dogmas of 
predestination, Christ s presence in the Eucharist, and, under 
lying these, the being and nature of God, the root of all 
things and all thought ? 

St. Bernard was neither by taste nor training qualified to 
take a distinguished part in the dialectics of his time. He 
could not speculate like Anselm, nor argue like Abelard. 
He hated heresies as foes to practical life, as disturbers of the 
devotion of monasteries, as hinderers of the common action of 
the Christian nations against the Infidels : he was no less a 
determined opponent of the logic of the schools ; he was, how 
ever, a saint, not a doctor ; and if he overcame the objects of 
his fiery wrath, if Abelard and Gilbert both submitted, it was 
not because of the fine temper of his sword or the skill with 

he was first buried by the monks. His remains were afterwards removed 
to the oratory of the Paraclete which he founded. Heloise was prioress 
of the latter. 

Book V 127 

which he used it, but because he bore them down by his 
earnestness, his impetuosity, his reputation for holiness, and 
the sheer weight of his unrivalled authority. 

Once more there is perhaps reason for gratitude. If 
St. Bernard had been differently constituted, our libraries 
might have been encumbered with more * fossil folios , to the 
loss of his inspiring exhortations and such helpful medita 
tions on the Godhead as he communicated to Eugenius. 
St. Anselm thus poured out his soul I do not attempt, 
O Lord, to penetrate Thy profundity, because in no sense 
can I compare it with my intellect : but I do desire to 
comprehend Thy truth, even though imperfectly, that truth 
which my heart believes and cherishes. For I seek not to 
comprehend in order to believe, but I believe in order to com 
prehend. I believe, because if I did not believe, I should 
never comprehend. St. Bernard s attitude was somewhat 
different. It cannot be better expressed than in the words 
of Frederick Denison Maurice Bernard did not dislike 
Abelard mainly as a rebel against authority, but as outraging 
what he conceived to be the divine charity or love. Righteous 
ness was not so much the foundation of his mind as it was of 
Anselm s. He was not nearly so just a man. But no writer 
of any age has dwelt more upon love as constituting the very 
being and nature of God, and as the perfection of man because 
he is made in the image of God. This is the characteristic 
feature of his mind ; in it, we believe, lay the secret of his 
power. The idea of the Trinity was in him the idea of the 
absolute, all-embracing love. Any other basis of divinity he 
abhorred. The intellectual conceptions of Abelard were in 
different to him when they were applied to any other subject, 
were utterly offensive when applied to theology. The ex 
planations which were welcomed with so much enthusiasm by 
Abelard s youthful hearers, were to him the dry, hard substi 
tutes for a living truth. That which appeared to quicken and 
inspire them, smelt in his nostrils of the grave and the charnel- 
house/ Hence St. Bernard s portrait of Alx-lard laid before 
the Pope Ponit in coelum os suum ft scrutatur aha Dei* 

1 Maurice, Mediceval Philosophy; Lewes, ///>/. of Philosophy, vol. ii ; 

ia8 On Consideration 

Mysticism. The name given to a school of thought which 
arose in the way of recoil from the cold and exact logic of 
Scholasticism in the twelfth century. Its leading idea is that 
perfect holiness and spiritual knowledge are to be attained by 
devout contemplation rather than by outward means of grace 
and theological study. The three stages of such perfection 
are defined as Purification, Illumination, and Perfect Union 
with God (Diet, of Doctrinal and Historical Theology, p. 501). 
It was no novelty in St. Bernard s century ; contemplative 
natures must have been at all times disposed towards it ; the 
older monastic systems are said to have been characterized 
by it in a high degree ; and the writings of the fifth century, 
falsely attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite (Acts xvii. 34) 
had great influence on the religious thought of the Middle 
Ages. John the Irishman was the first to combine Mysticism 
with Scholasticism. In his leading work, the De Divisions 
Naturae, he puts the following prayer into the mouth of the 
student God, our salvation and redemption, who hast given 
us nature, grant to us also grace. Manifest Thy light to us, 
feeling after Thee, and seeking Thee, in the shades of ignor 
ance. Recall us from our errors. Stretch out Thy right 
hand to us weak ones who cannot, without Thee, come to 
Thee. Show Thyself to those who seek nothing besides 
Thee. Break the clouds of vain phantasies which suffer not the 
eye of the mind to behold Thee in that way in which Thou per- 
mittest those that long to behold that face of Thine, though it 
is invisible, which is their rest, the end beyond which they 
crave for nothing, seeing that there cannot be any good beyond 
it that is higher than itself. The orthodox mystics of the 
twelfth century had a common aim, viz. to reconcile the 
claims of contemplative piety with those of scientific theology, 
but expressed themselves very differently. Bernard held that 
not argument but holiness comprehends the things of God ; 
Hugo of St. Victor (A.D. 1097-1141) laid down the principle 
that the uncorrupted truth of things cannot be discovered by 
reasoning ; Richard of St. Victor, disciple of this last (d. 

Ueberweg, Hist, of Philosophy, vol. i ; Morison, Life and Times of 
$t. Bernard; Church, Life of St. Anselm, &c., &c. 



A. D. 1173) treated the faculty of mystical contemplation as 
superior to the imagination and the reason. Another Victorian, 
Walter (about A. D. 1180) gave to Abelard, Peter Lombard, 
Gilbert, and Peter of Poitiers the name of the four labyrinths 
of France. In the following century Bonaventura (d. A.D. 1274) 
rose to the full height of sublimity, or extravagance, by sub 
ordinating all human wisdom to divine illumination. He did 
not see how could he, when the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, 
the Source of all life, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, 
was so little understood ? that true human wisdom // divine 
illumination . It is related that Thomas Aquinas, the angeli 
cal doctor, on a visit to Bonaventura, whose Itinerary of the 
mind to God had won for him the title of the seraphic 
doctor, asked to be permitted to see the latter s library. Bona 
ventura pointed to the crucifix, and said it was there that he 
had learnt all he knew. This is the * spirit of the Mystics, 
and a beautiful spirit it is. With the Mysticism of later 
periods we are not concerned.] 


The things above 3 us, namely y God and things 
T)ivine, to which we rise by means of the 

i . The former books, although they bear the title * On 
Consideration , have very much in them relating to action, 
inasmuch as they teach or admonish that some things should 
be not only considered, but also done. But the present book 
will treat of Consideration only. For the things which are 
above you and that is our topic -do not call for action, but 
for contemplation. It is impossible to take a part in those 
things which in one sense ever are, and ever will be : some of 
which, moreover, ever have been. And I would have you, 


130 On Consideration 

my dear Eugenius, wisest of men, shrewdly observe what 
I am going to say, namely, that your consideration goes from 
home as often as it turns from the things above to the visible 
things below, whether these have to be studied with a view to 
knowledge, or sought for use, or administered and performed 
in the discharge of duty. Still, if your consideration so en 
gages in the things below as to seek the things above, it is 
not banished far. Consideration thus employed is a returning 
home. That is a higher and worthier use of things present, 
when, according to the wisdom of Paul, the invisible things of 
God are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that 
are made. 1 The citizens, doubtless, have no need of the 
ladder ; exiles have, as the author of the words I have quoted 
himself observed ; for, although he said that things invisible 
are clearly seen through things visible, he significantly added, 
from the created world. 2 And, indeed, what need of steps 
for him who is already on the throne ? Consideration is one 
of the creatures of heaven, and is equipped for deeper 
insight into the things of heaven. It sees the Word, and 
in the Word the things made through the Word. It has no 
need to beg the knowledge of the Maker from the things 
which have been made. For even to gain a knowledge of 
these things, it does not descend to them : it sees them 
where they are far better seen than in themselves. Hence it 
is that to reach them Consideration does not seek the medium 
of the senses: it perceives them immediately, and is self- 
percipient. That is the best sort of vision when you lack 
nothing, when you have your heart s desire, and find con 
tentment in yourself. Otherwise, you run some risk of 

1 Rom. i. 20. 

2 Created universe. But the context requires a contrast between 
mundus and coelum. See Gifford, Sanday and Headlam, Ep. Rom. 

Book V, Chapter i 131 

seeking satisfaction elsewhere, and this is to fall beneath the 
standard of perfection, and enjoy less freedom. 

2. And why should you want the lower things? Is it 
not absurd and unworthy of you ? Clearly, by longing for 
the things below, you do some wrong to the things above : 
though I admit that mortal man will never be guiltless of such 
wrongdoing until the time come when he will have escaped 
into the freedom of the sons of God. For they will all then 
be taught of God, 1 and without the medium of any creature 
will be blessed in God alone. This will be a returning home, 
when we leave the country of our bodies and reach the realm 
of spirits I mean our God, the Mighty Spirit, the great 
abiding place of the spirits of the blessed. There is no place 
here for the intrusion of sense or imagination ; this realm is 
truth, it is wisdom, virtue, eternity, the highest good. For 
a while we are absent from it ; our present abode is a valley, 
the vale of tears, where the senses have dominion, and Con 
sideration is an exile : where the bodily sense freely and 
powerfully manifests itself, but the eye of the spirit is veiled 
in darkness. What wonder, then, if Consideration, being a 
foreigner, needs a native s help? And in passing through 
time to eternity the traveller is to be congratulated who has 
been able to win for himself the indispensable services of the 
citizens ; using them, not delighting in them ; compelling 
them, though not master of them ; demanding them, not 
^r them. 

1 St. John vi. 45. 

132 On Consideration 

The Steps of Consideration 

3. He is a great man who makes it his concern to utilize 
the senses, spending, as it were, the wealth of the citizens in 
thus providing for his own salvation and the salvation of many. 
And he is no less a man who has made philosophy a stepping- 
stone to the things invisible. The only difference is that there 
is more pleasure in the latter, more profit in the former : the 
one has more happiness, the other indicates more strength. 
But he is the greatest of all who, scorning the use of sensible 
things, so far as human frailty permits, has accustomed him 
self, not by gradual steps, but by sudden ecstatic flights l to 
soar aloft to the glorious things on high. I suppose Paul s 
ecstasies 2 were of this last description : they were departures 
[from the senses], not the ascent [of the senses] ; for he him 
self relates that he did not ascend into Paradise, but was rather 
caught up thither. This is what he means by saying If we 
mentally depart, it is to the glory of God . 3 Moreover, when 
Consideration, even in the place of its sojourning, through the 
pursuit of virtue, and with the help of grace, has gained 
the upper hand, these three results follow : it either checks 

1 Excessus, literally departures. Ecstasy is defined as an extra 
ordinary state of feeling in which the mind stands out of or is detached 
from sensible things . 

2 2 Cor. xii. 4. 

3 2 Cor. v. 13. Vulg. mente excedimus, the reference being to the 
ecstasies themselves, not to the criticisms of St. Paul s opponents on 
them. The Revised Version translates are beside ourselves, i. e. are 
mad. See Stanley on Corinthians , &c. 

Book V, Chapter it 133 

the senses, 1 lest they assert themselves too strongly: or 
draws them in, lest they go too far afield : or shuns them, 
lest they defile. In the first case the mark of Considera 
tion is strength, in the second freedom, in the third purity. 
For such a flight of the spirit is only made with the wing of 
purity on the one side, and of rapture on the other. 

4. You would like to know the distinguishing names of 
these various kinds of Consideration. Let us say, if you 
please, that the first is economical, the second estimative, the 
third speculative. The meaning will appear from the defini 
tions. Consideration is economical that of the steward 2 
when it makes systematic use of the senses and of sensible 
things in daily life so as to win the favour of God. It is 
* estimative that of the valuer when it wisely and dili 
gently searches everything, and weighs everything, to find God. 
It is speculative when it retires within itself, and so far as 
Divine help is given, detaches itself from human affairs in 
order to contemplate God. I suppose you carefully observe 
that the last is the fruit of the others, and that the others, if 
they stand unrelated to it, may seem to be what they are called, 
but are not really so. And unless the first keeps the last in 
view, it sows much and reaps nothing ; moreover, unless the 
second makes the last its goal, it walks, but does not walk 
forth. So then, what the first desires, the second scents," 1 
the third tastes. To this taste, however, the others also bring 
us, though more slowly ; and there is a further difference the 
first is the more toilsome road, the second the more peaceful. 

1 Literally, stmualtty; but the context ihows that the word had not iu 
modern associations. 

2 Oikonomos, for which the Vulgate equivalent is dispensator in 
St. Luke xii. 43 ; i Cor. iv. I, 3 ; Titus i. 7 ; I Pet. iv. 10. St. Bernard s 
word is disptnsativa. s R cading odoratur. 

134 n Consideration 

Opinion, Faith, and Understanding 

5. Enough about the way up, you say ; I have still to tell 
you whither you must ascend. You deceive yourself if you 
expect me to do that ; it transcends the power of speech. Do 
you think that I can utter what eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
and has not entered into the heart of man P 1 God , the apostle 
says, has revealed them to us by His Spirit. 2 So then the 
things which are above are not taught by words, they are 
revealed by the Spirit. But what speech does not explain let 
Consideration seek, prayer desire, the life merit, purity attain. 
At all events, when I admonish you to consider the things 
which are above you, do not think that I am sending you to 
gaze at the sun, moon, and stars ; no, not the firmament itself, 
nor the waters which are above the heavens. For all these 
things, though locally above , are in point of value beneath 
you, even in dignity of nature, as they are material existences. 
Your portion is the spirit, whereby you in vain look for any 
thing above you which is not spirit. Moreover, God is a Spirit, 
and so are the holy angels, and they are above you. But God 
is a Spirit in virtue of His nature, the angels are your superiors 
through grace. The special excellence both of yourself and 
of angelic beings is reason ; but in God there is no peculiar 
excellence ; He is altogether excellent. He, and the blessed 
spirits who are with Him, must in three ways, as it were along 
their several paths, be by our Consideration sought after the 
paths of opinion, faith, and understanding. Of these, under 
standing depends on reason, faith on authority, while opinion 
1 Isa. Ixiv. 4. 2 I Cor. ii. lo. 

Book V, Chapter Hi 135- 

safeguards itself by probability only. Two of them attain to 
the certainty of truth, but faith possesses truth out of sight and 
implied, understanding has it naked and manifest ; opinion, 
having no certainty, does not so much apprehend truth as seek 
it through probabilities. 

6. The utmost caution must be exercised so as to avoid 
confusion, lest the uncertainties of opinion crystallize into 
articles of faith, or the foundation verities of faith become the 
questionable matter of opinion. And we should bear this in 
mind that opinion venturing on assertion is rash ; faith, if it 
hesitate, is weak ; and understanding, if it try to break into the 
sealed mysteries of faith, is deemed a burglar, and a spy upon 
the secrets of the throne. Many have taken their own opinion 
for understanding, and have thus erred. And in truth opinion 
may be taken for understanding ; understanding cannot be taken 
for opinion. How so ? Surely because opinion may be de 
ceived, understanding cannot be ; if it could, it would not be 
understanding, but opinion. For true understanding has not 
only certain truth, but the knowledge of truth. We may thus 
define each of them. Faith is, by the exercise of the will, 
a sure foretaste of truth not yet manifested. Understanding 
is the sure and clear knowledge of some invisible thing. 
Opinion is the holding something provisionally true which you 
do not know to be false. So then, as I have said, faith is 
free from doubts ; if it have doubts it is not faith, but opinion. 
How, then, does it differ from understanding ? Inasmuch as, 
although there be no more uncertainty in it than there is in 
understanding, still it has a veil before its eyes, which is not 
the case with understanding. In short, if you understand 
a thing, further inquiry is needless ; if further inquiry be 
necessary, you do not understand. But there is nothing we 
would rather know than what we already know by faith. When 

1 3 6 On Consideration 

the veil shall have been utterly removed from the things of 
which we are now assured by faith, the cup of bliss will be full. 

The Angels 

7. Well now, having thus cleared the way, let us turn our 
consideration to our mother, Jerusalem above, and with caution 
and close attention, by all three ways enumerated, search out 
the things unsearchable, so far, I mean, as may be lawful, or 
rather, so far as shall be given to us. And first let us remember 
that the citizens of that country are spirits, mighty, glorious, 
blessed, separate personalities, of graduated rank, from the 
beginning standing in their own order, perfect of their kind, 
having ethereal bodies, endowed with immortality, passionless ; 
not so created, but so made that is, through grace, not by 
nature ; beings of pure mind, benignant affections, religious and 
devout ; of unblemished morality ; inseparably one in heart and 
mind, blessed with unbroken peace, God s building, dedicated 
to the divine praises and service. All this we ascertain by 
reading, and hold by faith. But as regards their bodies, some 
authorities hesitate to say not only whence they are derived, 
but whether in any real sense they exist at all. If any one is 
inclined to think the derivation of these bodies a matter of 
opinion, I do not dispute the point. Further, if we hold that 
the angelic beings are endowed with understanding, this is not 
of faith, nor is it mere opinion ; it is a conclusion of our under 
standing ; for if they had not understanding, they could not 
be partakers of the Divine nature. There are likewise certain 
names, known to us by the hearing of the ear, by means of 
which the duties, merits, ranks, orders, of these blessed ones, 

Book V, Chapter iv 137 

things only faintly heard by mortal ear, in one way or another 
may be conjectured and distinguished. But, in truth, what 
does not come by hearing is not of faith, for faith cometh 
by hearing. * And so we may speak conjecturally of these 
topics. For what is the good of our knowing the names 
of the celestial beings if we may not, without prejudice to 
faith, form some opinion as to the things the names denote ? 
Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Domin 
ions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim these are the names. 
What do they signify ? Is there no difference between those 
spirits who are simply called Angels and those who are called 
Archangels ? 

8. What, then, is the meaning of this difference in degree ? 
Let us suppose (unless your consideration has showed you 
something better) that they are called Angels who are believed 
to have been given as guardians of individual men, sent to 
minister, as Paul teaches, 2 on behalf of those who are the 
heirs of salvation ; it was of these the Saviour said, * Their 
angels do always behold the face of your Father/ 3 Let us 
suppose that over these are the Archangels, who, admitted to 
a knowledge of the Divine secrets, are not sent except for 
particular and very weighty reasons. From among these the 
great Archangel Gabriel was, as we read, sent to Mary, 4 and 
for the greatest of all reasons. Let us suppose that above 
these are the Virtues, by whose command or operation signs 
and wonders wrought in the elements, or through the elements, 
appear for the warning of mortal men. Perhaps this explains 
why it is that after reading in the Gospels/ " There shall be 

1 Rom. x. 17. 

2 Hcb. i. 14. St. Bernard assumes St. Paul to be the author of the 

8 St. Matt, xriii. 10. * St. Luke i. 26. " St. Luke xxi. 25. 

138 On Consideration 

signs in the sun, and the moon, and the stars, a little farther 
on you have, for the Virtues of the heavens shall be moved : * 
the spirits, no doubt, through whom the signs are wrought. 
Let us suppose that the Powers are their superiors, and that 
by their vigour the power of darkness is checked, and the 
malignant spirits of this lower air are restrained, that they 
may not do harm to their full intent : that they may not be 
able to show their malignity, except for beneficial ends. Let 
us suppose that the Principalities are also preferred to these 
last, and that by their regulating wisdom all sovereignty 
upon earth is established, ruled, limited, transferred, curtailed, 
changed. Let us suppose that the Dominions tower above the 
aforesaid orders to such a height that in comparison of these 
all the rest appear to be administrative spirits, and that to 
the Dominions, as it were to their masters, the Principalities 
account for their commands, the Powers for their defences, 
the Virtues for their operations, the Archangels for their 
revelations, the Angels for their care and foresight. Let us 
suppose that the Thrones have winged their flight far away 
beyond even the Dominions, that they are called Thrones 
because they sit on thrones, and that they therefore sit because 
God is seated in them. For He could not be seated in those 
who were not themselves seated. Do you ask what I mean 
by that sitting ? The deepest tranquillity, the utmost calm 
ness and serenity, the peace which passes all understanding. 
Such is the Lord of Hosts, who sitteth in the Thrones, 
tranquilly judging all things, perfectly calm, serene, peaceful. 
And such He made the Thrones, most like Himself. Let 

1 The corresponding Greek word elsewhere (Rom. viii. 38, I Pet. iii, 
22) denotes the angels, but in this passage and the parallel passage in 
St. Matt, it probably denotes the greater heavenly bodies, the ruling 
lights. See Alford, &c. 

Book V, Chapter iv 139 

us suppose the Cherubim to drink at the very fount of wisdom, 
the mouth of the Most High, and in turn to pour forth the 
streams of knowledge for all their fellow citizens. May not 
this be the rushing river, the streams whereof make glad the 
city of God/ l of which the prophet spake ? Let us suppose 
the Seraphim to be spirits inflamed with the Divine fire, kindling 
all things, so that the citizens may be each a burning and 
a shining lamp, burning with charity, shining with knowledge. 
9. How good it is, Eugenius, for us to be here ! But 
how much better will it be if we ever altogether follow on 
whither we have in part gone before ! Our hearts lead the 
way, but not our whole hearts ; only a part, and too often 
a small part. While our affections are weighed down by the 
bodily tabernacle, and our desires cleave to the mire, contem 
plation, thin and spiritless, is left to wing its flight all alone. 
And yet out of the depths of its poverty it will cry, O Lord, 
I have loved the beauty of Thine house, and the place where 
Thy glory dwelleth. 2 But suppose the soul were to collect 
itself, and the affections were brought back from all places 
wheresoever they are kept captive, through fearing what 
they ought not, loving what they should not, sorrowing in 
vain, rejoicing still more in vain. Suppose the soul, I 
say, accompanied by these affections and possessed of full 
freedom, were to wing its vigorous unimpeded flight, satis 
fied, as it were, with the marrow and fatness of grace ; 
once it begins to travel round the abodes of light, and 
more intently gaze upon Abraham s dear bosom, and see 
4 beneath the altar , whatever that may mean, the souls of the 
martyrs with utmost patience waiting in their first robe to be 
clothed with the second, will it not then much more earnestly 
say with the prophet, * One thing have I asked of the Lord, 
1 Ps. xlvi. 4. a Ps. xxvi. 8. 

140 On Consideration 

that will I seek after : that I may dwell in the house of the 
Lord all the days of my life, to behold the fair beauty of 
the Lord, and to visit His temple ? l What prevents the 
heart of God being there revealed ? Why should it not there 
be proved what is * the will of God, the good, acceptable, and 
perfect will ? 2 good in itself, pleasing in its effects, accept 
able to those who have fruition of it, perfect to the perfect 
who seek nothing beyond it. Bowels of mercy are disclosed, 
thoughts of peace, the riches of salvation, the mysteries of the 
good will, secrets of loving-kindness, which, shut out from 
mortal ken, are only guessed at even by the elect. But even 
in this there is something salutary: men might otherwise cease 
to fear before they are found fit to worthily love. 

10. In the heavenly beings who are called Seraphim we may 
discern how He loves who has no cause to love, and who also 
hates nothing that He has made ; how He cherishes those 
whom He has made for salvation, teaches them to go, 3 embraces 
them, how the fire of His love consumes the sins of His 
elect youth, and the chaff of their ignorances, throughly 
purifying them for Himself, and making them most worthy of 
His love. In the Cherubim, who have a name for fullness 
of knowledge, we may perceive that the Lord is a God of 
knowledge, who only knoweth all things, and in Him is no 
ignorance at all ; who is altogether light, and in Him is 
no darkness at all ; 4 who is all eye, and who cannot possibly 
be deceived, because that eye is never closed ; who seeks not 
outside Himself for light which He may approach that He 
may see, for He sees in the light of His own Being. In the 
Thrones we may behold how the Judge, trusted by all that is 
innocent, sits in them ; He who will not deceive, and cannot 

1 Ps. xxvii. 4. 2 Rom. xii. 2. 

3 Hos. xi. 3, Exod. xix. 4, &c. 4 I John, i. 5. 

Book V, Chapter iv 141 

be deceived, inasmuch as He loves, as has been said, and 
sees, as has been said. Nor is this His sitting without 
significance ; it indicates tranquillity. May my sentence go 
forth from such a presence l where love is found, but no error, 
no confusion ! In the Dominions we may see how majestic 
is the Lord, who at His pleasure establishes His empire, that 
empire which is as wide as the universe and shall endure for 
ever. In the Principalities we may perceive the fount of all 
things ; as a door turns on its hinge, so the universe depends 
on the King Himself. In the Powers we may see how power 
fully the First Cause protects those over whom He rules, keep 
ing off and driving back the hostile powers. In the Virtues 
we may see everywhere equally present that one Virtue through 
which are all things, life-giving, active, invisible, unmovable, 
yet moving all things for beneficial ends, and holding them 
in its grasp. When this Virtue breaks forth into effects less 
familiar amongst men, we hear of miracles or prodigies. 
Lastly, as we contemplate the Angels and Archangels, we 
may see, and marvel, how true it is in our experience that 
He careth for us ; 3 He who never ceases to delight us with 
the visits of such glorious beings, to instruct us with their 
revelations, admonish us through their suggestions, solace us 
by their zealous attention. 

God is the Source of Angelic Gifts and Graces 

1 1 . All these gifts and graces were bestowed on these 
spirits by their Creator, one and the self-same Spirit dividing 

1 P$. xvii. 7. 2 i Pet. v. 7. 

142 On Consideration 

to them severally as He willed. It is He who worketh them 
in His creatures, it is He who has given to His creatures the 
power of working them, but in different ways. The Seraphim 
burn, but with the fire of God, or rather with fire for God. 
Their chief characteristic is their love, but they love not as 
much, nor in the same way, as God. The Cherubim shine, 
and excel in knowledge, but by participation in the truth ; 
and accordingly they know not as the Truth knows, nor as 
much. The Thrones sit, but by the favour of Him who 
sitteth in them. They also tranquilly judge, but not so fully, 
nor in the same way, as the Peace that giveth peace, the Peace 
which passes all understanding. The Dominions rule, but 
they rule in subjection to a ruler, and serve Him as well. 
What is this in comparison with the supreme, everlasting, 
unparalleled dominion ? The Principalities lead and govern ; 
but they themselves are governed : so that they would no 
longer know how to govern, if they ceased to be governed. 
In the Powers there is surpassing strength ; but He to whom 
they owe their strength has more strength, and of a different 
kind: He is not so much strong, as strength itself. The 
Virtues, in accordance with their ministry and their might, are 
busy rousing the sluggish hearts of men by the novelty of 
signs ; but it is Virtue itself, immanent in them, that does the 
works. They also do them, but in comparison with that 
doing they do them not. In short, so great is the difference 
that the prophet says to Him, as standing apart from all 
others, Thou art God who doest wondrous things, 1 and 
also concerning Him, Who alone doeth great and marvellous 
things. 2 Angels and Archangels are with us, but He is 
more our own who is not only with us but in us. 

1 2. But if you say that an Angel may also be in us, I do 
1 Ps. Ixxvii. 14. 2 Ps. cxxxvi. 4. 

Book V, Chapter v 143 

not deny it. I remember that it is written, The Angel who 
spake in me. l And yet there is a difference even here. 
The Angel is in us suggesting what is good, not bestowing 
it : stimulating us to goodness, not creating goodness. God 
is so in us as to give the grace, and infuse it into us ; or rather, 
so in us that He Himself is infused and partaken of, so 
that one need not fear to say that He is one with our spirit, 
although He be not one with our person, nor one with our 
substance. 2 For you know, * He that is joined unto God is 
one spirit. 3 The Angel, therefore, is with the soul, God 
is in the soul. The Angel is in the soul as a comrade, 
God as life. It follows that as the soul sees in the eyes, 
hears in the ears, smells in the nostrils, tastes in the palate, 
has the sense of touch in all the rest of the body, so God 
worketh different effects in different spirits : for instance, in 
some He manifests Himself as love, in others as perception, 
in others as action of various kinds, according as the mani 
festation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 4 
What are we to think of Him who is so common a topic of 
our speech, but who is so far removed from us in reality ? 

1 Zcch. i. 14. 

* It should be remembered that Pantheism was prevalent all through the 
Middle Ages, and that it was not confined to individual thinkers, but was 
adopted by considerable communities (sec Flint, Anti-theistic Theories, 
P- 357)- St. Bernard may have had in mind the teaching of John Scotus, 
who regarded the Deity as the substance of all things. He affirmed the 
doctrine of the descent of the Triune God into finite things, not only 
with reference to the single instance of the Incarnation, but with reference 
to all created things or existences. Our life is God s life in us ... The 
knowledge which angels and men have of God is God s revelation of 
Himself in them. (Ueberweg, Hist, of Philosophy, vol. i, pp. 362-3). 
How far St. Bernard agreed with this, and how far he differed from it, is 

3 i Cor. vi. 17. 4 I Cor. xii. 7. 

144 n Consideration 

How is it that He whom we describe with mortal words 
hides Himself in the depths of His own Majesty, and alto 
gether shuns our human forms l and affections ? Hear what 
He says to men, As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than 
your thoughts/ 2 We are said to love, so is God : we are 
said to know, so is God : and much to the same purpose. 
But God loves like Charity, knows like Truth, sits in judge 
ment like Equity, rules like Majesty, governs like Authority, 
guards like Safety, works like Virtue, reveals like Light, 
stands by us like Affection. All these things the Angels 
also do, and so do we, but in a far inferior way, not, of course, 
by our native goodness, but by the goodness whereof we 

The Eternal Self- existence of God 

12. Now, then, let us pass from these spirits, if haply you 
too may be able to say with the spouse, It was but a little 
I passed from them when I found him whom my soul loveth. 3 
Do you ask, What is His name ? That is surely not a 
better question than What is His character ? The answer 
which God wished to be given respecting Himself, the 
answer which He Himself taught Moses, and which Moses 
at God s command told the people was I am what I am ; 
He who is hath sent me unto you . 4 Fitly was this answer 
given. Nothing could better describe eternity, and God is 
eternal. If you say that God is good, great, blessed, wise, 

1 Aspectus. 2 Isa. Iv. 9. 

3 Cant. iii. 4. 4 Exod. iii. 14. Vulg. 

Book V, Chapter vi 145- 

or any such thing, the starting-point is this God is. Of 
course, the very meaning of God s existing is that all these 
attributes constitute existence. If you add a hundred others 
you have not got away from the fact of His existence. By 
naming them you have not added anything ; if you do not 
name them, you have not diminished aught. If you now per 
ceive the nature of this unparalleled, unique, supreme existence, 
will you not agree that in comparison thereof whatever is not 
included therein may more accurately be said not to exist than 
to exist ? Do we ask further, What is God ? We reply, 
4 That without which nothing is. We say nothing can exist 
without Him, just as He Himself cannot exist without Him 
self. He is self-existent. He is existence to all else. And 
so, in a certain sense, He is alone, who is the source of His 
own existence, and of the existence of all beside. What is 
God? The Beginning, 1 as He Himself replied concerning 
Himself. In the world of sense many things are called 
beginnings, but in respect of things that come after. If, 
instead of looking forwards you look backwards, you will 
allow Him to be the beginning of all. Wherefore, if you 
wish to find the true, unconditioned beginning , you must 
discover that which has no beginning. That from which all 
began could not possibly have had a beginning. For if it had, 
there must of necessity have been some source from which it 
sprang, since nothing is self-originating. If it be imagined 
that the non-existent 2 could give itself a beginning, or that 
something may be before it is, I reply that both these altcrna- 

1 St. John viti. 25. The later Latin text, Principium, quia et Inquor 
vobis, is what St. Bernard has in mind. Sec Westcott s supplementary 
note on this very difficult passage. 

2 Non-existent in the seme of that which has absolutely no being, or 
mere privation. St. Bernard was familiar with other meanings, philoso 
phical and religious, of the non-existent*. 


i \6 On Consideration 

tives are contrary to reason, and it clearly follows that nothing 
was its own beginning. Moreover, whatever had not its 
beginning from itself was not the first beginning. The true 
beginning, therefore, by no means began, but was altogether 
the fount of its own being. 

14. What is God ? He for whom the ages have neither 
come nor gone, and yet with whom they are not co-eternal. 
What is God ? He from whom are all things, through 
whom are all things, in whom are all things V From 
whom , by creation, not by propagation. 2 Through whom , 
lest you should suppose there is some other author and 
some other maker. * In whom , not locally, but potentially. 
From whom , as the one beginning, the one author of all. 
Through whom , lest some other beginning be brought in 
as the originator. In whom , lest a third term, place, be 
introduced. From whom , not as though God were the 
matter of which things are made ; He is the efficient, not 
the material cause. In vain do philosophers look to matter 
to solve the difficulty; God has no need of matter. For 
He did not seek a workshop, nor an artificer. He, through 
Himself, in Himself, made all things. Whence ? Out of 
nothing ; for if He made them out of anything, He did not 
make that, and therefore did not make all things. God forbid 
that out of His own incorrupt and incorruptible substance 
He should be thought to have made so many things that are 
doubtless good, but are nevertheless corruptible. You ask, 
If all things are in God, where is God Himself ? Still, 
I find no place which can contain Him. You ask where He 
is not ? I cannot tell this either. What place is without 

1 Rom. xi. 36. 

2 Seminabiliter. Not as the human race from Adam, or the plant from 
the seed. 

Book V^ Chapter vi 147 

God ? God is incomprehensible ; l but you have appre 
hended not a little if you have ascertained this much about 
Him, that He is nowhere who is not enclosed by space, and 
that He is everywhere who is not shut out by space. In 
His own sublime and incomprehensible way, as all things 
are in Him, so He is in all things. In a word, as the 
Evangelist says, He was in the world. 2 But in a different 
way He is there, where He was before the world was made. 
You must not ask where He was ; except Himself there was 
nothing. Therefore He was in Himself. 

The Divine Trinity in Unity 

15. What is God ? The best object of thought. 3 If you 
approve, you ought not to countenance the belief that there 
is something which is the essence of Godhead, and yet is not 
God. 4 If there were, it would doubtless be better than God. 
Must it not of necessity be better than God if it is not God, 

1 In modern English, omnipresent. Incomprehensible appears to be 
used here as it is in the Creed, and expresses that which cannot be 
grasped by, or contained within, any space . St. Bernard s word is not, 
however, imrnensus, but incomprehensibilis. A little lower down the 
word is used in the sense inconceivable , beyond the grasp of the mind. 

2 St. John i. 10. 

3 So St. Anselm nearly the greatest object or being that can be 
conceived . 

4 Gilbert, Bishop of Poictiers, whom St. Bernard opposed at the Council 
of Paris, A. D. 1147, and in the following year at the Council of Rheims, 
distinguished the divine essence from the Deity, the properties of the three 
divine Persons from the Persons themselves, not in reality, but by abstrac 
tion. It is this distinction between Dtus and divinitat which St. Ber 
nard condemns. Mosheim, iii. p. 79; Ueberweg, Hist. Philosophy, i. 
P- MJ- 

K 2 

148 On Consideration 

but constitutes His being ? But it is wiser for us to confess 
that the divinity which men say is the essence of God is 
the same as God. Unless it be God it cannot be in God. 
What , say our opponents, do you deny that God has 
divinity ? No ; but what God has, that He is. Do you 
deny that God exists in virtue of His divinity ? No ; but 
we say that He exists in virtue of no other divinity than that 
which He Himself is. If you have discovered some other 
divinity, I fall back upon the doctrine of the Tri-une God, 
and stiffen my back against your new-found divinity . You 
may divide the world into four quarters if you please : you 
must not so map out the Godhead. God is a Trinity : God 
is each of the three Persons. If you like to add a fourth 
divinity, I have already fully convinced myself that no divinity 
which is not God ought to be worshipped. I suppose you 
think so too : for * thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, 
and Him only shalt thou serve . l That is truly a glorious 
divinity which dare not claim for itself divine honours. But 
we do better in rejecting the fourth term altogether than in 
receiving it without due honour. We say that there are many 
things in God it is sound Catholic doctrine but the many are 
but one. Otherwise, if we regard them as individually distinct, 
we have God not only fourfold, but a hundredfold. For 
example, we speak of His greatness, goodness, justice, and 
innumerable other attributes ; but unless you consider them all 
as one in God, and with God, you will have a manifold God. 
1 6. It is not difficult for me to frame a better idea of God 
than this of yours. What is your view ? you say. I regard 
God as absolute simplicity. 2 A sound judgement prefers 

1 St. Matt. iv. 10, St. Luke iv. 8. 

2 In the sense of singleness. The supreme unity , the simplest 
unity of all, are perhaps equivalent phrases. 

Book V, Chapter vii 149 

simplicity of nature to that which is manifold. I know the 
usual answer to this. We maintain , say they, 4 that the 
many attributes do not constitute the being of God, but only 
one divinity composed of them all. You assert, then, that 
although God is not manifold, He is twofold, and you have 
not reached the highest conception of God as absolute sim 
plicity. That is as far from being simple which involves 
even one form, 1 as she is no longer a virgin who is known 
to even one man. I speak freely ; even a twofold God shall 
not be my God : I have a better one. Suppose I do prefer 
a twofold Divine Being to a God multitudinous and manifold; 
I nevertheless utterly despise such a God in comparison with 
a God of a * simple nature. My God is none other than 
what He is in the catholic sense. We must not institute 
a comparison between what He includes and excludes. He is 
what He is. We are not told all that He is. He is pure spirit, 
simple, complete in Himself, self-consistent, adding nothing to 
Himself from time, place, material things, losing nothing of 
Himself in them; incapable of numerical division, and not com 
posed of several parts to make a collective whole. For He is 
a unit, not a union. He has no corporeal parts like our bodies ; 
no different affections, like our souls ; He is not susceptible 
of many * forms , like all creation ; nor does He assume even 

1 In the philosophy of Aristotle the principle of form or essence was 
the substitute for the Platonic idea. Form may be defined as that which 
exists in itself and for itself. Combined with matter it constitutes indi 
vidual existences, the form of the thing being the actual nature it 
possesses. God was regarded as pure form without matter, the imma 
terial and eternal form, the pure Actuality in which is no potentiality, 
the self-thinking Reason, or absolute Spirit. Form* is also regarded as 
equivalent to species, a substantial part of the genus, or the substantial 
unity of the individuals included in the species, and sometimes as the 
differentia, by the addition of which the materia becomes a ipecies. See 
Ucberwcg, Hist, of Phil., &c. 

i y o On Consideration 

one form, as our opponents conceive of * form . Surely God is 
greatly to be praised for that He is content with one form , 
so that He may exempt Himself from all deformity. This is 
equivalent to saying that the nature of all else is conditioned 
in many ways, but that God s nature is absolute. What ? 
Will He, through whose goodness all things exist, stoop for 
His being to the goodness of another ? That praise, to use 
a common expression, means blasphemy. Is it not higher 
excellence to need nothing than to need one thing ? Have 
reverence for God, so that you may give Him the best. If 
your heart has been able to rise to this level, how will you 
place your God lower down ? He is His own form ,* His 
own essence. For a while I look up to Him at this eleva 
tion ; if a higher rank were revealed to me, I would rather 
give it to Him. We surely need not fear that thought will 
soar above Him. However high it may attain, He is still 
beyond. To look for the Most High beneath the summit 
of man s thought is absurd ; to place Him there is impious. 
He must be sought beyond it, not on this side of it. 

17. Ascend thus far if you can; lift up your heart, and 
God will be exalted. God is not dependent on form. He 
is pure form. 2 God is not a feeling, He is a state of feeling ; 
He is not compound, but absolute simplicity ; and you know 
full well what I mean by simplicity : the word is synony- 

1 It must be borne in mind that Gilbert, St. Bernard s antagonist, 
advanced the doctrine of native forms. John of Salisbury thus sums 
up the doctrine est autem forma nativa originalis exemplum, et quae 
non in mente Dei consistit, sed rebus creatis inhaeret. It was related to 
the idea in the mind of God as the exemplum to the exemplar. In 
sensible or natural things form and matter are united : the forms do not 
exist as native forms apart from things, but with them. In God, who is 
pure form without matter, the archetypes of material things (corporum 
fxemplaria} exist as eternal, immaterial forms. 

8 See note above. 

Book V, Chapter vii 1 5 1 

mous with unity. In proportion as God is one, He is simple. 
Now He is one in such a sense as nothing else is. If the 
phrase be permissible, He is most of all one. 1 There is one 
sun as no other can be ; one moon also, as no other can be. 
So it is with God, but more so. How more so ? He is 
one even to Himself. Would you like a little light upon this ? 
He is always the same, and never changes. It is not so with 
the one sun, or the one moon. Both proclaim that they are 
not one to themselves, the sun because of its movements, the 
moon on account of her phases. But God is not only one to 
Himself, He is also one in Himself. He has nothing in 
Himself but Himself. He knows no change through time, 
no difference in His substance. Hence the saying of Boethius 2 
concerning Him This is the true unity which is indivisible, 
and admits nothing foreign to itself. Nor can this unity be 
reduced to " forms ", for it is pure form. 3 Compare with this 
unity all that can be called unity ; God s unity will not be 
found there. Yet God is Three in One. What follows? 
Do we upset what has been said about the Unity by bringing 
in the thought of the Trinity ? No ; but we establish the 
Unity. We speak of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ; still 
we maintain there are not three Gods, but one God. What, 
if I may so speak, is the meaning of this number which is not 
a number ? 

If there are three particulars, must there not be numerical 
distinction ? If there is but one, what becomes of the enumera 
tion ? But I have, you say, something that can be numbered, 
and yet not numbered. There is one substance, there are 

1 Unissimus. 

2 The famous Latin philosopher and statesman, beheaded A. D. 526 
for opposing Arianism. The passage is to be found in the Basle Edition 
of his works (1570), p. 1 1 23. 

3 That is, Joes not allow of division into sptcits. See above. 

if 2 On Consideration 

three Persons. Is there anything strange or obscure in this ? 
Nothing, if the persons are conceived of separately from the 
Substance. The truth is that, inasmuch as the three Persons 
are one Substance, and the one Substance is the three Persons, 
there is no denying that we do number them, for they are 
really three ; yet on the other hand we do not number them, 
for they are really one. If, again, you think an easy explana 
tion is found by calling them three, tell me what it is you 
have numbered. Natures ? There is one nature. Essences ? 
There is one essence. Substances ? There is one substance. 
Godheads ? There is one Godhead. I do not number 
these , you say, but the Persons, and they are not that one 
nature, that one essence, that one substance, that one divinity. 
You are a Catholic ; you are not in the least likely to make 
such a concession. 


The plurality of Persons in the Godhead, and 
their several properties . The unity and 
simplicity of the Essence 

1 8. The Catholic Faith confesses that the properties of 
the Persons are identical with the Persons themselves ; and 
that the Persons themselves are nothing else than one God, one 
Divine Substance, one Divine Nature, one Divine and Supreme 
Majesty. Number, therefore, if you can, either the Persons 
without the Substance, which they themselves are, or the 
characteristics without the Persons with whom they are iden 
tical. Or, if any one endeavour to separate the Persons from 
the Substance, or the characteristic attributes from the Per- 

Book V, Chapter vi ii 15-3 

sons, I am at a loss to understand how he can profess to 
be a worshipper of the Trinity after dividing the Godhead 
into such a vast multitude of particulars. Let us therefore 
maintain that there are three Persons, but not to the prejudice 
of the Unity : let us hold that there is one God, but not so 
as to confound the Trinity ; for these are not mere names, 
nor idle words void of meaning. If any one asks how this 
can be, let him be content to hold that it is so, though I must 
add that if the doctrine be not clear to reason, it is no halting 
opinion, but the firm conviction of faith. This is a great 
mystery, worthy of all veneration, not to be keenly scrutinized. 
How can plurality consist with unity, or unity with plurality ? 
To closely examine the fact is rashness, to believe it is piety, 
to know it is life, and eternal life. Wherefore, Eugenius, if 
you think it worth while, let me have your undivided considera 
tion as I run through the many arguments which tend to show 
the greatness of this unique unity. There is a unity which 
we may call * collective , as, for example, when many stones 
make one heap. There is a * constitutive unity, as when many 
members make one body, or many parts constitute one whole. 
There is a unity such as that of man and wife, whereby 
two are no longer two, but one llesh. And there is a 
natural unity, whereby soul and body are one man. There 
is a * potential unity, the realization of which is the constant 
endeavour of a virtuous man, so that he may not be unstable, 
nor unlike himself. There is the unity of agreement, when 
the love of many men leads to their being of one heart and 
one soul. There is also the unity of devotion, when the soul, 
ck-aung to God with complete surrender, is one spirit. And 
there is the unity of condescension, whereby our poor nature 
was taken by the Word of God to make one person in Himself. 
19. But what arc all these compared with that supreme, and, 

i f 4 @ n Con sidera tion 

so to speak, unique unity which results from the consubstan- 
tiality of the three Persons ? If you find a likeness between 
any one of the foregoing and this unity, the resemblance is 
but partial ; if you compare them with it, there will be no true 
resemblance. Therefore, among all things which are rightly 
called One , the unity of the Trinity, whereby three Persons 
are one Substance, is the highest. Next comes that surpassing 
unity, whereby, conversely, three substances are in Christ, one 
Person. Moreover, real sober consideration proves that the 
foregoing, and whatsoever else can be called One , have the 
title in virtue of their resemblance to that supreme Unity, not 
because they allow of comparison therewith. Nor do we 
forsake this profession of the Unity by our upholding of the 
doctrine of the three Persons, since, when we speak of the 
Trinity, we do not mean a multiplicity of gods any more 
than in speaking of unity we imply loneliness. Wherefore, 
when I speak of One I am not disturbed by the consideration 
of number, which does not multiply the essence, nor change 
it, nor divide it. Again, when I speak of three things, if 
I view them as one, whatever the three things may be, I am 
not proved wrong. Nor, if I speak of the three Persons 
of the Godhead, am I obliged to confound the Persons, or 
reduce the three to the One. 


As in God there are three Persons and one 
Nature : so in Christ there are two Natures 
and one Person 
20. My views, I confess, are similar respecting the unity 

which I have ranked next in honour to that which is unique. 

Book / 7 , Chapter ix 1 5- 5- 

I say that in Christ the Word, the human soul and body, are 
without confusion of the essences one Person, and I further 
maintain that the human and divine remain numerically dis 
tinct without prejudice to the unity of person. Nor would 
I deny that this unity is of the same class as that unity whereby 
soul and body are one man. It was fitting that a mystery 
devised for man s welfare should have a more intimate relation 
to man s nature and more closely resemble it. It was fitting, 
too, that it should harmonize with that highest unity which is 
in God and is God, so that as three Persons in the Trinity 
are one Essence, so in the Incarnation, by a most appropriate 
contrast, the three Essences are one Person. Do you not see 
how beautifully the unity of Christ is set between the unity of 
God and the unity of man ? I mean, of course, the unity of 
the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. 
Most beautiful, most appropriate, I say, that the mystery of 
salvation should so fitly correspond to both, to God our 
Saviour on the one side, to saved humanity on the other. 
Thus this unity of the two natures, standing between the 
other two unities, must be pronounced inferior to the one and 
superior to the other, being as much above the lower as it is 
below the higher. 

21. In a word, so closely and so clearly are the natures 
united in the Person of the one Christ, who is God and Man, 
that you can without error in speaking of them use either mode 
of expression, and with the true Catholic Faith l declare both 
that God was man and man was God. But you cannot, with 
out sheer absurdity, similarly assert either that the soul is the 
body, or the body the soul, although in like manner soul and 
body is one man. And it is not surprising if the soul, with all 

1 So Hooker on the Communicatio idiomatum, Ecc. Pol., Bk v. liii. 

i f 6 On Consideration 

its vital energy, considerable though it is, and notwithstanding 
its affections, cannot so closely bind the body to itself as the 
Divinity united to itself that man who was predestined to 
be the Son of God with power. 1 The divine predestina 
tion is a long and strong chain for binding close : for it 
reaches from the Eternal. What is longer than eternity ? 
What more mighty than Deity ? Hence it is that this unity 
could not possibly be severed by death, although soul and body 
were separated from one another. And perhaps John felt this 
when he professed himself unworthy to undo the latchet of 
His shoe. 2 

The Parable of the three Measures of Meal 

22. We remember the three measures in the Gospel, which 
were mixed and leavened to make one loaf. 3 If any one were 
to apply the parable to the mystery of the Incarnation I should 
think he was not far wrong in so doing. How well the 
woman leavened them ! And so, in the parallel, without 
dividing the body and soul, the Word was distinct from the 

1 Rom. i. 4. 

2 St. Mark i. 7. In the mystical theology the shoe was taken to 
denote the humanity of Christ, which the Baptist confessed himself un 
worthy to serve, bear upon his shoulder, or carry in his hands . Unde 
S. Bernardus : Calceo, ait, hnmanitatis nostrae calceata fuit Verbi mate 
stas ; quia enim calceamenta in extrema corporis parte sunt, et ex mortuis 
fiunt animalibus, idcirco iuxta S. Gregorium et S. Hieronymum in Marci 
cap. i. 7 recte significant incarnationem Christi, quam se explicare non 
posse, nee ad hoc dignum esse hie confitetur S. loannes. A Lapide, 
Comm. on St. Matt. iii. II. 

3 St. Matt. xiii. 33, St. Luke xiii. 21. 

Book V, Chapter x if? 

body and sod, yet so that in the separation the inseparable 
union was maintained. For the partial separation is no ob 
jection against the unity which remained between all three. 
Whether two of the three were conjoined or dissevered, the 
personal unity none the less continued in all three. The one 
Christ and one Person, the Word, soul and body, remained 
just the same even after the death of the man Christ Jesus. 
In my opinion this mingling and leavening took place in the 
Virgin s womb ; she was the woman who mixed and leavened 
the three measures. For I should not, perhaps, err greatly in 
saying that the leaven was Mary s faith. She was clearly 
blessed in believing, since the things which were told her by 
the Lord were accomplished in her. 1 But they would not 
have been accomplished if anything had hindered the whole 
from being leavened, and continually leavened, according to 
the word of the Lord, so as to preserve for us, as well in His 
death as in His life, the one perfect Mediator between God and 
man, the man Christ Jesus in union with His own Godhead. 
23. In this admirable mystery, corresponding to the number 
of the measures, we may observe, most beautifully distin 
guished, the three steps of the new, the old, and the eternal. 
By the new I mean the soul, which is believed to be created 
out of nothing when it is infused into the body ; by the old , 
the jlcsh, which we know to have been transmitted even from 
Adam, the first of human kind ; by the eternal , I mean the 
Word, whom, as a certain truth, we assert to be co-eternal with 
the Father, and to be begotten of Him. And in the fore 
going, if you carefully notice, there is a triple exhibition of 
Divine power, inasmuch as then.- was something made out 
of nothing, the new out of the old, the eternally blessed 
out of that which was sentenced to death. How docs this 
1 St. Luke i. 45. 

iy8 On Consideration 

concern our salvation ? Much every way. Firstly, because, 
reduced to nothing through sin, we are through the mystery 
as it were created anew, that we may be a sort of first fruits of 
His creatures. 1 Secondly, because, translated from our old 
slavery into the liberty of the children of God, we walk in 
newness of the spirit. Lastly, because we have been called 
from the power of darkness to the kingdom of the eternal 
glory, wherein He has already made us to sit with Him in 
Christ. May they be no friends of ours who endeavour to 
estrange from us the flesh of Christ, impiously asserting that 
it was newly created in the Virgin, not taken from the Virgin. 
Well did the Spirit of Prophecy long before meet this opinion, 
or rather blasphemy of wicked men, when He said, A shoot 
shall spring from the root of Jesse, and a flower out of his 
root. 2 He might have said that the flower should come 
from the shoot, but He preferred to say from the root , that 
He might show the flower and the shoot to have the same 
origin. So we see that the flesh was taken thence whence 
the Virgin sprang; it was not newly created in the Virgin, 
but came from the root. 

The consideration of God continued 

24. I suspect you are a little vexed at my again asking, 
What is God? The question has already been asked so 
often, and you are doubtful whether the answer will ever be 
found. Dear Eugenius, Father in God, what I say is this 
He alone is God who never can be sought in vain, not even 

1 James i. 18. 8 Isa. xi. i. 

Book V^ Chapter xi 15-9 

when He cannot be found. Your experience may teach you 
this ; or, if not, believe one who has had the experience ; I do 
not mean myself, but the saint who says, Thou art good, 
O Lord, to them that hope in Thee, to the soul that seeketh 
Thee. 1 What, then, is God? As regards the universe, 
He is the final end ; in respect of election, He is salvation ; 
as regards Himself, He is self-knowledge. What is God ? 
He is almighty will moved by loving-kindness, virtue, eternal 
light, incommunicable reason, highest blessedness ; He is the 
creator of minds to enjoy Himself ; He endows them with 
life to perceive Him, disposes them to long for Him, enlarges 
them to receive Him, justifies them to be worthy of Him, 
fires them with zeal, fertilizes them that they may bear fruit, 
guides them into sweet reasonableness, moulds them to loving- 
kindness, regulates them for wisdom, strengthens them for 
virtue, visits them for consolation, illuminates them for know 
ledge, preserves them for immortality, fills them for happiness, 
is about their path for safety. 


God the rewardev of the good, and the righteous 
judge of the wicked 

25. What is God ? No less the punishment of the per 
verse than the glory of the humble. We may say He is 
reason and sweet reasonableness directing itself with fixed 
unchanging aim, and everywhere operative. Any ]>erversity 
in collision with that must of necessity be confounded. Of 
course, all swelling pride and unseemliness which dashes itself 
against that must be broken to shivers. Woe to all creation if 

1 Lain. iii. ^. 

160 On Consideration 

it chance to get in the way of unbending righteousness ! for 
that righteousness is strength. There is no more deadly foe 
of wills wickedly disposed than to be for ever attempting, ever 
in conflict, and all in vain. 

Woe to wills opposed ! Surely they only bring upon 
themselves the penalty of their own reluctance. What 
penalty is so severe as to be ever choosing what shall 
never be, ever refusing what shall never cease to be? Is 
there any hell like a will under this necessity of choosing 
and refusing, so that whichever way it moves misery must be 
as constant an attendant as perversity ? As long as eternity 
shall last it will not get its choice ; and what it refuses it 
shall no less through eternity endure. And such a will meets 
with its due deserts ; he who is never disposed for what 
becomes him, should never attain to what delights him. Who 
doth this? The righteous Lord our God, who with the per 
verse also shows Himself perverse. Straight and crooked can 
never agree, for these are contrary one to the other, though 
they do not injure one another. One of the two is injured ; 
it cannot be God. It is hard for thee , He says, * to kick 
against the goad : * that is, not hard for the goad, but hard 
for him who kicks. God is also the punishment of the base, 
for He is light ; and what is so hateful to filthy and degraded 
minds ? Surely, Every one that doeth evil hateth the light. 2 
But I say, will they not be able to shun the light ? Not 
in the least. It shines everywhere, though not to all. In 
a word, it shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehends 
it not. 3 The light sees the darkness, for with it seeing and 
shining are the same thing ; but it is not in turn seen by the 
darkness, because the darkness comprehends it not. They, 
then, are seen that they may be confounded ; and they do not 
1 Acts ix. 5. a St. John iii. 20. 3 St. Johu i. 5. 

Book V, Chapter xii 161 

see that they may not be consoled. Nor are they seen only 
by the light ; they are also seen in the light. By what person 
or persons ? By every one who sees, so that the greater the 
number of beholders the greater may be their confusion. But 
out of the whole multitude of the spectators there is no eye 
more troublesome to a man than his own. There is no glance, 
whether in heaven or on earth, which a benighted conscience 
would rather escape, or is less capable of escaping. The 
darkness is not hidden even from itself; though it sees naught 
else, it sees itself. The works of darkness follow it, and 
there is no hiding-place from it, not even in the darkness. 
This is the worm that dieth not l the memory of the past. 
Once it gets within, or rather is born within through sin, 
there it stays, and never by any means can be plucked out. 
It never ceases to gnaw the conscience ; feeding on it as on 
food that never can be consumed it prolongs the life of misery. 
I shudder as I contemplate this biting worm, this never-dying 
death. I shudder at the thought of being the victim of this 
living death, this dying life. 

26. This is the second death, which never kills, but is 
always killing. Will no one grant them to die once for all 
that they may not evermore be dying ? They who say to 
the mountains, * Fall on us, and to the hills, cover us, 2 what 
do they desire but to put an end to death by the kindness of 
death, or to escape from it ? In short, they will call upon 
death, and death will not come. 3 I would have you see thi^ 
clearly. It is certain that the soul is immortal, and so long 
as it has life it must have memory; for otherwise it might 
some day cease to be the soul. So then, while the soul 
lasts, memory also lasts. But what is memory like ? It is 

1 Isa. l.xvi. 24 ; St. Mark ix. 48. 2 St. Luke xxiii. 30. 

3 Apoc. ix. 6. 


1 62 On Consideration 

burdened with foul disgrace, horrid crimes, swelling vanity ; 
through scorning (the better part) it is like a field rough and 
neglected. These former things have passed away, and have 
not passed away. They are out of hand, but not out of 
mind. What has been done cannot be undone; the doing 
was in time, but the effect of the doing will be eternal. 
That does not pass with time which passes all times. The 
wrong-doing that you remember for ever must therefore for 
ever be a torment. This will be to realize the truth of the 
words, I will reprove thee and set before thine eyes what 
thou hast done. * It is the Lord who thus spoke ; all 
that opposes Him must of necessity oppose itself ; so that at 
last there will be the complaint, O thou watcher of men, 
why hast thou set me as a mark for thee, so that I am 
a burden to myself? 2 These are the facts, Eugenius. 
Nothing can contradict God and be consistent with itself; 
on the contrary, whosoever shall be reproved by God shall 
be reproved also by himself. When the soul is torn from 
the body, and stands self-centred, it will be no longer possible 
for reason to disguise the truth, or for the soul to shun the 
searching insight of reason. How can it do so when the 
senses, by means of which, as we know, it was wont to sally 
forth to gratify its curiosity, and, leaving itself, would find 
a home in that fashion of the world which passeth away, are 
sealed up in the slumber of death ? Do you see that nothing 
is wanting to complete the confusion of the filthy whet 
they shall be brought forth as a spectacle to God, to angel 
to men, to themselves ? How lamentable is the lot of 
bad men, who must undoubtedly face this torrent of simj 
equity, and stand exposed to the light of unveiled truth 
Is not this to be for ever beaten, and to be for ever con- 
1 Ps. 1. 21. 2 Job vii. 20. 

Book V, Chapter xii 163 

founded ? Break them with a double breach, O Lord our 
God , 1 saith the prophet. 


The mystical interpretation of the length a) id 
breadth, and height, and depth 

27. What is God? Length, breadth, height, and depth. 
What? you say. You do, after all, profess to believe 
in the fourfold Godhead which was an abomination to you. 

Not in the least. I abominated, and still abominate it. 
I may have seemed to express a number of things : I really 
indicated one. God is designated One to suit our compre 
hension, not to describe His character ; His character is 
capable of division, He Himself is not. The words are 
different, the paths are many, but one thing is signified ; the 
paths lead to one Person. No divisions of the Substance are 
expressed in that fourfold enumeration ; no dimensions, such 
as we contemplate in bodily structures ; no distinction of 
Persons, such as we adore in the Trinity ; there is no 
enumeration of properties such as we confess to be inherent 
in the Persons, though they are no way distinguishable from 
the Persons. Moreover, in God each of these is what the 
four are all together ; and the four are just what each one 
is. We cannot attain to the full conception of the simplicity 
of God ; hence it is that while we strive to apprehend the 
Unity, it \ -esents itself to us as fourfold. This is the 
result of our seeing darkly as in a mirror, the only way for 
the present of seeing God at all. But when we shall see 

1 Jcr. xvii. 1 8. 
I. 2 

i tf 4 On Consideration 

face to face, \ve shall see Him as He is. 1 When that 
blessed time shall come, the poor, weak blade of our in 
tellect, however hard it may strike, will not recoil, or be 
broken to shivers. It will rather concentrate itself, and 
will conform itself to His unity, or rather to that Unity, so 
that we shall have one face corresponding to His one face. 
For we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He 
is . Blessed Vision ! well might he sigh for it who said, 
My face hath sought thee : thy face, O Lord, will I 
seek/ 2 And as our business is still to seek Him, let us 
for the present, inasmuch as we are weak and faint, and 
sorely need such a conveyance, let us mount this four-horse 
chariot, 3 if haply we may thus lay hold of that for which 
we have been laid hold of, that is to say, the plan and 
working of the vehicle itself. For this admonition have 
we from the charioteer himself, who was the first to show 
us the chariot that we strive to comprehend with all saints 
what is the length, and breadth, and height, and depth . 4 
Comprehend , he says, not know : so that, not content 
with the curiosity of knowledge 6 we may with all eagerness 
1 ook for the fruit. The fruit is not to be found in knowledge, 
but in comprehension. 6 Besides, to him who knoweth to 
do good, and doeth it not/ 7 as a certain one tells us, it 
is sin ; Paul also elsewhere says, So run that ye may 

1 i Cor. xiii. 12 ; I John iii. 2. 2 Ps. xxvii. 8. 

3 That is, the length, breadth, depth, and height. 

4 Eph. iii. 18. 

5 Some persons study to know only to know that is curiosity. 

6 Compare Olshausen That comprehensive knowledge of essentials 
which by implication knows everything, and which St. John describes as 
the anointing of the Spirit which teaches everything. 

7 Jas. iv. 17. 

Book V, Chapter xiii 165 

comprehend/ * I will point out lower down the meaning of 

28. What then is God? He is length, I say; and what 
is length ? It is eternity. This is so long that it has no end 
either in place or time. He is also breadth. And what 
is breadth ? It is love. What bounds shall we set to the 
love of God, who hateth none of those things which He 
hath made ? In fact, * He maketh his sun to rise upon the 
good and the bad, and sendeth rain upon the just and unjust. 2 
So then there is room in the Divine bosom for God s ene 
mies also. And not satisfied with this, God s love compasses 
the infinite. It exceeds not only affection, but knowledge 
as well, for the Apostle goes on to speak of * knowing the 
love of Christ which passeth knowledge . 3 What more shall 
I say ? It is eternal ; or, to go a step further, I may perhaps 
say that it is eternity, You see that the breadth is as great 
as the length. Would that you saw not only that they are 
equal, but that they are identical ; that they are one and the 
same thing ; no less one than two, no more two than one ! God 
is eternity, God is love ; He is length without extension, 
breadth without distension. In both cases alike He exceeds 
the narrow limits of space and time, but in virtue of His 
unfettered nature, not through the vastness of His substance. 
In such wise He is immeasurable 4 who hath made all things 
by measure; and although He be immeasurable, His very 
immensity must be thus * measured . 5 

29. Once more, what is God ? He is height and 
depth. In the one He is above all things, in the other 

1 I Cor. ix. 24. So run that ye may fully obtain* Vulg. comfrehen- 

2 St. Matt. v. 45. s Eph. iii. 19. * Immensu$. 
5 In more modern language conditioned. 

1 66 On Consideration 

He is below all things. It is clear that in the Godhead 
there is no halting inequality; the Godhead stands firmly 
fixed, immovably self-consistent. Consider height as 
corresponding to the Divine power, depth to the Divine 
wisdom. There is a correspondence no less between these 
two than between the former two, if we perceive that this 
height is unapproachable, this k depth unsearchable. Paul 
marvelled as he cried aloud, O the depth of the riches of 
the wisdom and knowledge of God ! how unsearchable are 
his judgments, and his ways past finding out ! ] We too, 
as we contemplate both these attributes in God, and their 
perfect unity with God ; may with Paul exclaim, O powerful 
wisdom, reaching from one end of the world to the other 
with full strength ! O wise power, ordering all things 
sweetly ! 2 The thing is one, the effect is manifold, the 
operations are diverse. And that one thing is length 
because it is eternity ; breadth because it is love ; height 
because it is majesty ; depth because it is wisdom. 


MS hat it is to comprehend* God 

30. We know these things. We surely do not suppose 
that we have therefore comprehended them. It is not 
argument that comprehends them, but holiness, if at least 
that can any way be comprehended which is incomprehensible. 
But unless its comprehension were possible, the Apostle 
would not have said, That we may comprehend with all 

1 Rom. xi. 33. 2 Wisd. of Sol. viii. I. 

Booh / , Chapter xiv 167 

Saints/ 1 The Saints, therefore, comprehend. Do you ask 
how ? If you are holy you have comprehended, and know ; 
if you are not, be holy and you shall know by your own 
experience. Holy affection makes a man holy, and that 
a twofold affection : the holy fear of the Lord, and holy 
love. When the soul is perfectly possessed by these, it 
4 comprehends as it were with its two arms, embraces, draws 
close, holds tight, and says, I have held Him fast, and will 
not let Him go ; * Fear corresponds to height and 
depth , love to breadth and length . What is so much 
to be feared as irresistible power ? as wisdom from which 
there is no hiding ? God might have been feared less had 
He lacked either. But as things are, you must perfectly 
fear Him who neither wants an all-seeing eye, nor an all- 
powerful hand. Again, what is so lovable as love itself, 
whereby you love and are beloved ? Yet eternity conjoined 
with love makes love more lovable ; eternal love never fails, 
and it banishes the suspicion that it ever will. Love, there 
fore, with perseverance and long-suffering, and the * length 
is yours ; extend your love even to your enemies, the 
breadth is yours. Fear God with utmost care, and you 
have laid hold upon the height and depth . 

31. If, moreover, you prefer to respond to the four Divine 
attributes with four affections of your own, you may do so 
with wonder, fear, zeal, endurance. Most wonderful is the 
* height of His Majesty, most worthy to be feared the 
abyss 3 of His judgements. Divine love 4 demands your 
zeal, the eternity r> of God portrays your constant endurance. 

1 Eph. iii. 18. The Revised Version translates apprehend. 

2 Cant. iii. 4. 

8 , 4 , * These correspond respectively to the Jepth , the breadth , the 
length . See above. 

id8 On Consideration 

Who wonders, but he who contemplates the glory of God ? 
Who fears, but he who searches the depth of His wisdom ? 
Who glows with zeal, but he who meditates on the love of 
God ? Who endures and perseveres in love, but he who 
aspires to copy eternal love ? In truth, perseverance is a 
sort of likeness here to eternity hereafter. In fact it is 
perseverance alone on which eternity is bestowed ; or rather, 
it is perseverance which bestows man on eternity; as the 
Lord says, He that shall persevere unto the end, the same 
shall be saved. 1 

32. And now observe how these four represent four 
kinds of contemplation. The first and highest form of con 
templation is the admiration of the Divine Majesty. If the 
heart be cleansed, free from vice, and relieved of the burden 
of its sins, it may hereby be easily raised to things above ; 
the admiring soul may sometimes also for brief intervals be 
even kept entranced with wonder and amazement. The 
second must attend the first, for it beholds the judgements of 
God. It may violently shock the beholder with the fearful 
vision, but it puts vice to flight, firmly bases virtue, initiates 
in wisdom, preserves humility. For humility is a good sound 
foundation of the virtues. If humility, forsooth, be insecure, 
the whole structure of the virtues is nothing but a ruin. 
The third kind of contemplation is busy with, or rather 
leisurely surveys, past benefits; it would not send a man 
away with ingratitude in his heart, and therefore asks for 
such an one as is mindful of the love of the benefactor. 
Concerning such the prophet says to the Lord, They shall 
utter the memory of thy great goodness. * The fourth kind, 
forgetting the things that are behind, 3 rests in the expectation 
of the promises alone; inasmuch as it is meditation on 
1 St. Matt. xxiv. 13. 2 Ps. cxlv. 7. 3 Phil. iii. 13. 

Book T 7 , Chapter xiv 169 

eternity, for the things promised are eternal, it fosters a spirit 
of long-suffering, and gives strength to perseverance. It is 
now easy, I suppose, to adapt these four to the four in the 
Apostle s list ; meditation on the promises coincides with the 
4 length , the remembrance of benefits with the breadth , 
the contemplation of God s Majesty with the * height , the 
consideration of His judgements with the depth . He should 
have been further sought who is not yet found to the satisfy 
ing of our souls, nor can be sought enough. But perhaps 
He is more worthily sought through prayer than through 
dialectics, and more easily found. With this let us end the 
book but not our search for Him. 




This passage of St. Bernard respecting the two swords was 
incorporated, almost literally, by Pope Boniface VIII in his 
famous Bull, Unam Sanctam, A.D. 1302. But the Pope ad 
vances considerably on the Saint when he says, * One sword 
ought to be inferior to the other sword, and the temporal 
authority to be subject to the spiritual power (Oportet autem 
j Indium esse sub gladio* et temporalem spiritual! subici potts t at t). 
Bellarmin (De Romano Pontifice, Bk. v, c. 5) finds no refer 
ence in St. Luke s words to the Pope s having the two swords 
by the appointment of Christ. He adds: The Blessed 
Bernard and Pope Boniface mystically interpreted the passage; 
they did not mean to say that the Pope had both swords in the 
same way, but in different ways, as we shall afterwards explain/ 


St. Bernard s protest was sadly needed. A child of live 
years old was made Archbishop of Rheims. The see of Nar- 
bonne was purchased for another at the age of ten. It was 
almost universal to have bishops under twenty years old/ In 
the Eastern Church Theophylact. at the age of sixteen, became 
Patriarch of Constantinople, being installed in his office by 
legates of Pope John XI (A.D. 933).